How To Organize A Lottery Pool
The recent $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot won by anonymous individual has caused a wave of lottery hysteria across the US.
As is often the case, someone winning a life-changing amount of money has inspired others to think about how they can improve their own chances of hitting the jackpot.
Unfortunately, the chances of winning the lottery are miniscule, and the only way to improve them is to buy more tickets.
Of course, spending vast sums of money on lottery tickets is neither a wise idea nor a sensible investment given the extremely long odds of winning.
Fortunately, lottery pools offer people an alternate means of accessing more tickets without them having to spend extra money.
This might sound too good to be true. However, lottery pools are a legal and legitimate means of competing in the lottery.
The process of organizing and running a lottery pool is by no means easy or risk-free.
That’s why we’ve decided to put together this handy guide to explain how lottery pools work, the advantages of doing one, and the risks they pose.
What Is A Lottery Pool?
A lottery pool is a group of people who put money together to buy lottery tickets and agree to split the prize if one of the tickets wins.
As mentioned, lotteries are games of chance where the only way to increase the probability of winning is by accruing more tickets.
For example, numerous media outlets reported that the probability of winning the recent $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot was one out of 302,575,350.
Hypothetically, if a player had purchased 100 tickets these odds would improve to 100 out of 302,575,350.
So why do so many lottery players choose to only purchase one ticket?
This is predominantly due to the cost of playing. Most folks are not able or willing to invest large amounts of money into slightly increasing their chances of winning big.
After all, even with 100 tickets the odds of winning the jackpot are miniscule.
That’s why lottery pools are a popular choice. You can improve your chances of winning but without the additional cost.
For example, if 100 people chose to form a lottery pool and bought one ticket each, the chances of them winning the Mega Millions would match that of an individual who bought 100 tickets themselves.
However, on the flip side, the winnings of $1.337 billion would have to then be split 100 ways if the lottery pool won, whereas the individual could keep it all for themselves.
Of course, splitting the jackpot relies on winning in the first place but there is proof that lottery pools can and do work.
In 2012, 20 workers at a Quaker Oats factory in Iowa won $241 million. In the same year, 48 SEPTA workers won $173 million.
In both these cases the money was split amicably, highlighting how fantastic lottery pools can be when executed properly.
Why Are They Associated With Offices?
Whilst many friends and families may frequently form lottery pools, the practice is most closely associated with work colleagues, especially office workers.
The prevalence of lottery pools in office settings is thought to be due to a number of reasons, not all of them financially motivated.
In fact, many offices decide to form lottery pools as a means of boosting workplace camaraderie. This is because it provides employees with a common topic of conversation that can form the foundation of future friendships.
In a practical sense, offices tend to host a large number of people, which may lead to sizable lottery pools developing. Mathematically speaking, larger pools mean an increased chance of winning.
This fact makes forming lottery pools with colleagues preferable to creating smaller pools with immediate friends or family.
How To Set Up A Lottery Pool
Setting up a lottery pool correctly requires high levels of organization and transparency, especially in a workplace setting where the number of participants can be significant.
1. Form Your Team
Regardless of setting, the first task is always to recruit members.
If the pool is being created in an office, it’s advisable to make everyone aware of the fact.
This not only ensures those at the top of the company are comfortable with the lottery pool going ahead, but also that no employees feel left out or alienated.
2. Set The Rules
Once all have been approached and a list of players has been collated, two decisions must be made.
The first is if participants have to play every week, or if they can opt-in or out depending on their preference.
The second is what the buy-in for each draw is. This could be anything from the price of one ticket to the price of 10 and beyond.
Tip: It is advised that all participants put in the same amount of money each week as this will make the division of any potential winnings that much simpler.
Businesses that see a number of employees absent throughout the week either due to working schedules or commitments to clients, may wish to set up an in-house “bank”.
This allows uncontactable or absent workers to deposit money for future draws and therefore ensure that their money is collected for every weekly draw whether they be in the office or not.
3. Buy The Tickets
After the week’s entry money has been collected a single individual should use it to buy a pre-specified number of tickets.
Once the tickets have been received, they must be kept in a secure location.
All that is left to do then is to sit back, watch the draw, and hope for a lucky win!
Lottery Pool Dos And Don’ts
Whilst the process of forming a lottery pool is quite simple, there are a few tips that ensure the pool is fair and functional for all.
✅ Do Assign A Leader
First and foremost, every lottery pool should have a clearly designated leader.
This will be the person responsible for collecting money, purchasing tickets, and maintaining clear channels of communication between all lottery pool members.
Having a leader will ensure that the weekly processes are performed in a consistent manner, whilst players will have a contact they can reach out to if they have any questions or concerns.
✅ Do Make Sure You Sign A Contract
Secondly, make sure any agreements are put down in writing.
Signing a contract may seem excessive for those who see the lottery pool as a bit of fun, however there are numerous examples of verbal agreements falling apart when millions of dollars are suddenly up for grabs.
A clearly written and signed document ensures that there can be no arguments over who was playing, or the way the winnings should be split.
✅ Do Keep Tabs On Who Plays Each Week
Another important process is that after the collection of that week’s entry money, the pool leader should always email a full list of the week’s participants to all lottery pool members.
This ensures that those who have chosen not to play that week’s draw cannot stake a claim to any of the pool’s potential winnings.
✅ Do Make Sure The Leader Sends Copies Of The Tickets Out
The lottery pool leader should always send a copy of the week’s lottery tickets to all players upon purchasing them.
This is vital as it prevents the pool leader from never actually purchasing the tickets and pocketing the pool’s money or from using one of the pool’s tickets to claim the jackpot as an individual.
A trend that has caused multiple lottery pools to take their leaders to court as reported by NBC News.
The importance of this process is reinforced by Jason Kurland, a Criminal and Civil Litigation Attorney who stated to Time Magazine:
“You can look at cases where there is a ‘leader’ collecting all the money, buying tickets and if not done right, that leader might win on their own ticket and no one in the pool will believe them. It’s pretty scary especially in states where it’s an anonymous winner, no one is going to know if the tickets aren’t photocopied.”
✅ Do Agree On How Winnings Will Be Split
All lottery pool participants should come to an agreement concerning how small winnings will be dealt with, as these amounts are probably not worth splitting between numerous pool members.
Popular alternatives to splitting small winnings include using the money to buy more tickets for the next draw or buying treats such as coffees for the pool members.
❌ Don’t Use Cash
Whilst cash may seem like the easiest payment option, it can cause headaches in the future because it leaves no trace.
Digitally transferring money creates proof that the transaction occurred; proof that may well prove vital if players find themselves battling over winnings in court.
❌ Don’t Allow Verbal Agreements
For the same reason as not using cash, verbal agreements should also be avoided.
IOUs or verbal agreements on who has entered that week’s draw may well fall apart when large sums of money are at stake, so always get everything in writing.
Are Office Lottery Pools Legal?
In the US the legality of office lottery pools is predominantly down to location.
This is because lottery pools are a form of gambling and as such are dependent on the state’s gambling laws.
In states like Nevada, where gambling is commonplace and widely encouraged, there should be no problem with office lottery pools.
Of course, the opposite is also true, so you should always do your research before setting up a lottery pool.
In states like Utah, where all forms of gambling are prohibited, lottery pools are illegal and should therefore not be organized.
Furthermore, as office lottery pools occur on company property – and during company hours – permission should always be sought from the company owner, or manager before setting one up.
Finally, all government employees or civilians working at government facilities are generally not allowed to take part in gambling, even in states where it is legal, as it goes against federal workplace rules.
Lottery pools are therefore prohibited within these working environments.