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
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
This might sound too good to be true.
However, lottery pools are a legal and legitimate means of competing in the
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
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
So why do so many
lottery players choose to only purchase one ticket?
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
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
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
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
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
This fact makes forming lottery pools
with colleagues preferable to creating smaller pools with immediate friends or
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
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
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 Windsor, Ont., man is accusing his friends of betraying him after they hit a million-dollar lottery win last summer, and now the matter is likely headed to civil court.https://t.co/GahxZ4QQan
— CBC Windsor (@CBCWindsor) April 29, 2022
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
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
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
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
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
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
Lottery pools are therefore prohibited
within these working environments.