It is common for coworkers to form lottery pools and syndicates. Tickets are purchased for the group with the understanding that any winnings will be split among members. Unfortunately there have been sharks in some lottery pools. Russ Weaver, a University of Louisville law professor said that Lawsuits among lottery pool members have become so common that they have created a new set of case law in the courts. A quick Google search reveals several ‘lotto lawyers’ who specialize in lottery pool disputes.
Weaver advises pool members to “Be very careful in advance. One thing you don’t want to do is end up in litigation. Attorneys will eat up quite a bit of your winnings.” Weaver said that lottery pool members should photocopy all tickets and distribute them among members before the drawing. This will provide clear proof of which tickets belong to the group and which belong to individuals. Weaver said players need to be able to show “Did you make the decision before or after the numbers came out?”
Last March a judge in New Jersey ordered Americo Lopes to share a $38.5 million jackpot with lottery pool members despite his claim that he had purchased the winning ticket for himself. Another lottery pool case also occurred in March and involved a record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot. A scandal erupted when Mirlande Wilson of Maryland tried to claim the prize. Members of a lottery pool at a Baltimore McDonald’s where Wilson worked said they were entitled to a share of the winnings.
Wilson later said she lost the ticket and another group of lottery players came forward with the real winning ticket. Wilson’s former co-workers sued her in October and claimed she gave the ticket to the second group. Not all winning lottery pools end with negative feelings. Linda Sebastian loves her job but she knows exactly what she would do if her lottery pool win the $500 million Powerball jackpot. Sebastian said “My group, we’d wipe our whole floor out. There’d be nobody left in the office.” Her boss is also a member of the pool and Sebastian said “I tease him all the time. I say, ‘I’ll meet you at the lottery headquarters.’”