Tuesday's Mega Millions lottery jackpot has climbed to $586 million, and is expected to go even higher as the drawing nears. When the lottery gets to these elevated levels, casual players get into the game and office lottery pools heat up. But if you are going to play in one of these pools, you must be careful.
While playing along with your co-workers can be fun and exciting, the feelings of camaraderie and excitement often turn to anger and lawsuits after a big win. The most common disputes? Someone will claim that they personally purchased the winning ticket and that it was not part of the office pool or someone who has played in the past didn't the week of the win but feels they should have still been included. When there is a dispute, the money can be tied up for months or years while the issues get resolved.
The good news is that if you win the lottery in an office pool, it doesn't have to end like this. Here are five simple steps you can take with your office lottery pool to avoid most of these issues:
1. Name a leader. Name a leader who will be in charge of the lottery pool and who is responsible for buying the tickets, making copies, etc.
2. Create a contract. Create a simple contract that spells out the big issues (e.g., who is playing, how often, how much, whether you will take the lump-sum or an annuity, whether you will let the computer choose the numbers or if someone will choose the numbers, etc.) that all participants sign.
3. Make it public. Make a public list of who has signed the contract and who is participating so there is no uncertainty about who is involved and who isn't.
4. Make copies of tickets. Make copies of the tickets before each drawing and give them to each participant to avoid the "I bought this ticket with my own money" excuse.
5. Keep the tickets safe. Keep the original tickets in a safe but accessible place.
Of course, the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 259 million -- but, better safe than sorry!