HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A bill to give Pennsylvania lottery winners the option to remain anonymous is one step closer to becoming law. It passed the Senate unanimously.

One state representative is also championing a similar measure in the House. For him, and the sponsor of the Senate version, watching friends go through the experience of winning money is what pushed them to take action.

“They felt like they were being stalked and harassed,” said Sen. Lisa Baker (R), who sponsored the Senate bill. “Her grandparents were being contacted saying she owed money.”

When Baker’s friend won some lottery money, she said she realized how vulnerable lottery winners are to scams, identity theft and fraud.

“You get a target on your back,” Baker said.

This is especially true for older Pennsylvanians.

“How many people have we talked to in recent times about grandparent scams?” Baker said.

Baker took up the issue in the Senate. Her bill, which passed unanimously, would let winners choose whether they want their name released.

“We don’t have to disclose to the public if you win at the horse races, that’s your personal income,” she said.

In Pennsylvania, winners can already create a trust to collect the winnings, keeping their name out of the process. So why is Baker’s bill necessary?

“A lot of lottery winners maybe don’t have the wherewithal or want to go through the mechanism of creating a blind trust,” Baker said, adding not everyone has an attorney or financial advisor to help them through the process.

State Representative Patrick Harkins (D-Erie) is pushing a similar measure in the house, also built on his friends’ experiences.

“It just seems like a lot of people can be preyed upon,” he said. Referencing a specific case, he said, “She was very concerned that the public would know after she filled out the paperwork.”

However, some argue that anonymity hurts transparency.

“I’ve heard from lottery officials who have said they like it the way it is right now because it shows the public that there are winners,” Harkins said.

Harkins and Baker disagree. They say the lottery can be transparent without names and there are already safeguards in place.

“They verify the ticket, they verify the information,” Baker said.

According to the World Population Review, 24 other states offer full or partial anonymity to lottery winners. Baker said people there have not stopped playing the lottery.

“I don’t think the bill is going to hurt the lottery or question the transparency,” she said.

The Senate bill now moves to the House, where Harkins said he expects to see bipartisan support and a compromise.

abc27 also reached out to the Pennsylvania Lottery for comment. A spokesperson said they are still reviewing the bill and have not taken a position yet.