What is an office lottery pool?
An office lottery pool is a group of colleagues who purchase lottery tickets together and agree to split their winnings. The group uses all participant contributions to purchase several tickets. This increases each participant’s odds of winning without them having to spend more money purchasing several tickets of their own. The tradeoff is that if they win, each participant shares the prize amount instead of collecting it on their own.
How does an office lottery pool work?
Here’s an example of how an office lottery pool works:
A company’s office lottery pool has 100 members. Every week, each member who wants to participate in the following week’s drawing contributes $1. Last week, 75 members contributed. On Friday, the leader emailed every member a list containing the names of each contributing member. The leader then purchased 75 lottery tickets that cost $1 each. On Monday morning, the leader sent every participating member another email with a photocopy of each ticket. The leader placed the original tickets in a company safe.
The lottery drawing occurs on Tuesday evening, and the office lottery pool beats the odds and wins the $375 million jackpot. Although the group has 100 members, only the 75 contributing members who participated share the prize amount. Each participating member receives a share of the jackpot equal to $5 million before taxes.
How to organize an office lottery pool
Use the following best practices to help you organize an office lottery pool:
1. Create a contract
In business, contracts, such as project and employment contracts, help protect the interests of two parties entering into an agreement. Typically, people think of contracts as formal agreements, but they can also be helpful in casual situations. Drafting a contract for your lottery one pool can help ensure fairness and reduce the risk of future disputes. Consider the following factors when creating a contract:
- Process for new members joining
- Method used to collect money
- Specific timelines for each drawing
- The amount each member contributes
- Games the group plans to purchase tickets for
- Process for tracking contributions and identifying participants
- Specific, detailed agreements for how the pool plans to collect and distribute winnings of various prize amounts
Provide each member with a copy of the contract, and require them to sign an agreement acknowledging their consent to the rules. Keep the signed copies in a binder, so you can easily add new ones as members join. Alternatively, you can use electronic documents with e-sign capability to simplify record-keeping.
2. Designate a leader
Designate a leader who group members trust to collect money, track contributions, purchase and secure tickets and handle distributions of winnings. Selecting one person as the leader helps the group remain organized and ensures everyone knows who to contact with questions. The leader also hires a lottery lawyer and communicates with lottery officials if the group wins a large prize amount.
3. Welcome everyone to participate
Make a public announcement about the office lottery pool to the entire organization and invite everyone to join. Doing this ensures everyone has a fair chance to participate and helps protect participants from disputes in the event of a large winning. Some ways you can announce the pool include:
- Story on your intranet homepage
- Fliers posted in break rooms and lunch rooms
- Mass e-mail
- Mass message through a messaging system, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams
- Announcement at a company-wide meeting
- Having supervisors share the news with their teams
4. Collect money electronically
Use an electronic payment method, such as a payment app, to collect contributions from members who wish to participate. Doing this provides each contributing member with written proof of their contribution. Electronic payments also ensure all members have the chance to participate, even if they aren’t in the office during the contribution period.
5. Confirm participants before purchasing tickets
Email or distribute a list containing the names of all participants before purchasing tickets. Doing this eliminates the risk of someone claiming they thought they were participating when they weren’t and protects participating members from potential disputes arising from a large winning.
6. Make a copy of every ticket
Make a photocopy of every ticket purchased with contributions, and provide a copy of the tickets to every participant before the drawing. Allow participants to compare the copies to the original tickets if they ask. Doing this ensures collected money is used to purchase tickets and allows every participant to check winning numbers against the groups’ tickets. It also protects the leader from disputes regarding winning numbers or ticket purchases.
7. Secure the original ticket
Store the original tickets in a safe and accessible location. A safe or lockbox kept at the office is ideal for an office lottery pool. After the drawing, keep the original tickets for audits.
8. Get the advice of an attorney
Before the lottery pool begins, have an attorney review the contract and your practices and procedures for administering the lottery pool. A legal professional may spot potential risks to your organization that you overlooked. In addition, a lawyer can assess the validity of your contract.
9. Prepare to handle disputes
Many companies successfully run lottery pool groups without incident, but you shouldn’t assume yours will go off without a hitch. Put a process for handling complaints in place. Will the lottery pool leader handle them or will someone else in your organization be responsible for resolving issues? Choosing a person who doesn’t participate in the pool to act as a mediator may be beneficial.
Frequently asked questions about office lottery pools
Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about office lottery pools:
How does an office lottery pool benefit an employer?
Organizing an office lottery pool helps employers create a positive culture in their workplace. It also helps them bring colleagues throughout their organization together. Office lottery pools naturally create a common interest for participants to dream and talk about. This helps create stronger working relationships throughout an entire organization.
What issues could an office lottery pool create?
The primary issue to be aware of when organizing an office lottery pool is the potential for conflicts to arise over the division and distribution of winnings. If your office lottery pool beats the odds and wins a large amount, disputes may arise between participating members or between the participants and colleagues who didn’t participate. These issues are preventable by establishing clear guidelines in writing for identifying participants and collecting, dividing and distributing winnings among them.
Although the odds of winning a large prize are small, don’t assume it’s impossible. If a large group of your employees suddenly strike it rich with a big win, you may find yourself dealing with mass resignations. As a result, the start of a lottery pool is a great time to revise your job descriptions for key positions. This way, you’ll be ready to begin searching for new candidates if the participants win.
What do office lottery pools do with small winnings?
Most office lottery pools agree to use small prize winnings to purchase new lottery tickets for the next drawing. If your office lottery pool wants to use small winnings to purchase more tickets instead of dividing minimal prize amounts between participants, it’s important to ensure your lottery pool contract defines the limits for classifying a prize as a small winning.