Avoid a legal battle over the office lottery pool with a contract

The office lottery pool is an increasingly common feature just about everywhere. While they're mostly a source of dreams and entertainment, someone has to win, right?

Right. And if it happens to be your office lottery pool that does, hope you have all of the details ironed out—and written down—before you collect the check. Otherwise, things can get messy as coworkers start fighting over everything from how to divide the winnings to who got left out of the pool unfairly.

Save yourself some major headaches and legal trouble down the line by drafting a lottery pool contract that lays out the major rules:

—It should name the group leader for the lottery (the person responsible for buying the tickets) and hold that person free of liability if the tickets don't get bought for some reason.

—At a minimum, it should specify that only the people who sign the contract are included in the pool, that payment for each week's pool is due in advance or that person is excluded from the pool, and that there is no "regular" group of players—anyone is free to join or stop playing at any time.

—The contract should specify whether the group will pick set numbers or use random ones.

—If set numbers are chosen, the contract should specify that there is no "ownership" over that combination of numbers. That could be critical if the group decides to play once a week but an individual decides to use the same numbers to play a second time each week.

—It should also specify how any money that's won gets split and whether it will be taken as a lump-sum or through annual payments.

—It should clarify that tickets bought by the group leader out of his or her own funds at the same time as the group tickets belong to the group leader alone.

—The method of distribution of the proof of purchase should be spelled out. Usually, a photocopy of the tickets is given to each member of the pool before the drawing and the group leader holds the actual tickets for safe keeping.

Lottery disputes can end up turning what should be a joyous occasion into a heated battle, so aim for clarity above all else in your contract.

If you do have a dispute or think that you were unfairly treated by the office lottery pool, consider contacting an attorney who is familiar with lottery disputes for assistance.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Playing the lottery with co-workers? Set some rules.," Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, accessed Jan. 06, 2017

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