How will Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery work? Here’s what we know

Local News

Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine again discussed plans for a $1 million lottery to create an incentive for vaccinations in Ohio.

How does the vaccine lottery work?

According to DeWine, starting on May 26, the Ohio Lottery Commission will announce the winner of a drawing for adults who have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement will take place during the evening lottery timeslot at 7:29 p.m.

A total of 5 drawings will take place over 5 weeks. Each winner will receive $1 million.

The list of people in the lottery pool will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State’s voter registration database. A website will also be available to sign up, if people are not already in the database.

The Ohio Department of Health will sponsor the drawing, to be conducted by the Ohio Lottery. The money comes from existing federal coronavirus relief funds.

Who is eligible for the vaccine lottery?

DeWine laid out the following eligibility requirements:

  • 18 years of age or older on the day of the drawing
  • Ohio resident
  • Must be vaccinated before the drawing

Drawing for young people

Five winners ages 12-17 will be announced, each receiving a scholarship to an Ohio state-run university. Those drawings will also take place Wednesdays.

On May 18, a portal will open for those young people to register for the drawing.

Why a vaccine lottery?

“We’ve got people who have got their vaccine, we’ve got people who’ve not gotten their vaccine and absolutely say ‘I’m never gonna get it.’ That’s fine, we respect that,” said DeWine. “It’s the people in the middle who are going to determine whether we get the numbers that we need to tamp this virus down. That’s where the game is, that’s where the action is. And so, being able to create an added incentive that may appeal to some of those individuals seemed well worth the money.”

Is the state allowed to spend federal money on a vaccine lottery?

“Money was sent to the states with the specific purpose of helping us battle COVID,” said DeWine. Being able to get more people vaccinated has a tremendous benefit for every citizen in the state of Ohio. It has a tremendous benefit particularly if people get the vaccine now instead of later. We’re effectively pulling them out of the group of people who can get it and the group of people who can in fact spread it.”

DeWine said he talked to Speaker Bok Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman, and they did not raise any issues. The governor said the money has already passed through the controlling board and is with the health department.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost commented on the legality as well.

“At first blush, the concept does not appear to violate state law, though that will be dependent upon how it is designed.  We will continue to review as additional details are made public,” Yost said in an emailed statement to NBC4. “Just because a thing may be legally done does not mean it should be done.  The wisdom and propriety of this expenditure is a question for the Governor and the General Assembly.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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