Lottery pools work by letting friends or fellow employees pool their funds and buy their weekly lottery tickets together, thereby increasing their chances of winning. For a few bucks a week, they each get an equal share of a dream.
When that dream becomes a reality, however, and somebody actually wins, all too often the whole situation transforms into a legal nightmare.
There are usually two common causes behind a legal fight over a winning ticket:
- The individual who bought the tickets for the lottery pool also bought tickets privately. He or she claims that the winning ticket was among one of his or her personal tickets. If there’s no real way to prove which tickets belonged to the group and which ones to the individual, that’s a real problem.
- An individual who normally participates in the pool was excluded that week for some reason but thought that he or she was still included — and doesn’t find out otherwise until after the rest of the lottery pool starts celebrating. For example, imagine that you normally participate in the office lottery pool every week and faithfully pay your share. Then, you happen to be out sick one day when the money is collected and nobody reminds you to pay up or tells you that you’ve been excluded. You’d probably be shocked and upset to be told that you weren’t getting a share of the winnings just because you took a sick day!
There’s a very good way to avoid these kinds of problems:
A lottery pool contract can avoid a lot of disputes by making it clear how the lottery pool’s tickets are to be distinguished from any privately purchased tickets. It can also clarify the policy on what happens if someone is out sick or on vacation when the money is collected or just forgets to pay that week.
Lottery pool contracts can be fairly hard to write up because you want to cover as many possible situations as you can — but they’re a lot less hassle than a lawsuit down the line that will deplete everyone’s winnings.
If you’re ever lucky enough to win the lottery but unlucky enough to find yourself in a lawsuit over it, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer with experience in lottery disputes.