Republican leader wants banks to offer prizes to open savings accounts

In an effort to get Georgians to save more money, state Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, has filed legislation allowing credit unions and banks to hold savings promotion raffles to get people to accounts.

Shafer said Tuesday that Senate Bill 134 is meant to give “regulatory freedom” to banks to create prize-linked savings accounts. Such accounts aim to encourage people to save money by adding a lottery-like feature to how they make deposits.

If Georgians spend billions of dollars a year on lottery tickets and scratch-offs, he said, then banks should be able to tap into that enthusiasm to get people to put at least a few more dollars into their savings accounts.

At least 20 other states allow financial institutions to offer prize-linked savings accounts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Depositors who hold such accounts are entered into a drawing based on the number or size of their deposits during a given period. They then have a chance to win prizes, which are funded through the interest that accrues across the pool of prize-linked accounts held by these depositors.

Nonprofits supporting Shafer’s effort include Atlanta’s Operation HOPE, which works with low- to moderate-income families on boosting their finances. The organization’s Caryn Anderson said she believes these types of accounts would offer families an incentive to save more.