My wife recently won $2,200 in her work’s lottery pool (her share of the winnings are $70) and that got me thinking about the rules around these types of pools.
Depending on the number of employees and amounts contributed, there could be some serious disputes faced by group members if they were to strike it rich with no formal agreement.
I remember in 2007 a group of Alberta workers won over $20 million in their lotto pool, but when they claimed the prize there was a dispute over who had paid what into the pool. A nasty legal battle ensued and I’m not sure how it was resolved but I imagine it wasn’t pretty.
My Office Lottery Pool
In my office we have an informal pool of people interested in buying the occasional ticket (usually when the jackpot gets large – like everyone else). We all put in $5 per person and this gets written down by our appointed “lottery guy” who keeps track of the tickets and who contributed what (and for which week).
We have never actually won anything other than free plays, but we are probably prepared in case we do win it big.
I don’t ever buy lottery tickets on my own because the odds of winning as a single ticket are so low. I do think there is some value in a group lottery pool because it increases your odds greatly (compared to buying a single ticket). Rather than 1 ticket – I get 10 for the same amount of money. Sure, it may mean I’d have to split the winnings with other people but I’d be prepared to do that if it meant splitting the costs every week.
Avoiding a Dispute
Here are some tips to avoid a dispute in case your office lottery pool wins the big one:
- Have one person assigned to buy the tickets, and have them sign it in their name with the words “in trust” included as well to clarify that the tickets are being bought on behalf of a group
- Make sure the designated person communicates with whoever contributed for that time period about the tickets. This could be an informal email to everyone who chipped in that week with a scanned copy of the tickets
- Keep track of who contributed what amount, and for what time period. Easiest way to do this is to keep a spreadsheet showing the name, amount paid and for what time period
- Keep the tickets safe. This one is obvious but if a group lottery pool does turn out to be a winner, it would be the worst thing in the world to not have a copy of the original ticket because it was misplaced.
The most common disputes with group lottery pools are people who have played as part of the group in the past but did not when a winning lottery ticket is drawn, and people who are part of the group lottery pool but claim a winning ticket was bought personally rather than as part of the group.
Money can bring out the worst in people, and I always read horror stories about families torn apart over a lottery winning they are fighting over.
I think it’s best to keep good records of who contributes what amount, and when, and make sure someone trustworthy is handling the cash. For our group lottery pool we have one person who is responsible for keeping the paperwork and buying the tickets. This makes sure we don’t have any disputes if we ever have a winning ticket in the future.
Do you participate in group lottery pools? Have you ever had a dispute over winnings?