The Lottery Pool: Stop Using the Honor System!!

Lottery pool

The lottery pool for coworkers and friends has become an extremely popular way to play the lottery jackpots over the last few years. Playing in a lottery pool, however, comes with a long history of nightmare scenarios for quite a few people involved. So many times we see a group of co-workers come through and win big only to have one of the co-workers or friends show tremendous amounts of greed by claiming that they were actually the ones that bought the ticket or some other ridiculous reason for why they deserve more than a split.

It amazes me to think about the greed that happens after winning the lottery actually becomes a reality in a lottery pool. I mean, really, a couple million isn’t good enough for you? You have to go and claim 75% of the winnings because you paid for your co-worker this time and they didn’t pay you back before the drawing??

There are so many stupid instances that should be avoidable simply by everyone going on their word. But, as we know, greed and dishonesty are rampant in our society and that’s just not a reliable way to go about things. It’s as if we always have to be suspecting the worst when it comes to other people and the level of trust that we can have with them. It’s actually quite sad and this topic always leaves me extremely frustrated with the greed that some people possess.

To be at least somewhat fair about the greed that some lottery pool winners show, there probably are quite a few instances where the lottery pool is so poorly put together and un-organized that there really is no way to tell what the split should be if any. I can certainly see there being quite a few problems in a co-worker lottery pool with this scenario:

Suzie is the ‘head’ of the lottery pool because she is the one that collects the money and goes to get the actual tickets. So you got Joe, Stacy, and Mike paying $2, twice a week, for every single drawing. Those three are in it every single time and always have their money ready for Suzie.

Now you got Dave, Aaron, and Jim, who are only in it when they have the $2 on them. In this instance, Susie asks the three of them if they’d like to be in it for the Saturday drawing. Dave gives the money to Suzie, Aaron says he’s out this time, and Jim just says something along the lines of, ‘yea, add me and just put it on my tab for next week.’ Suzie reluctantly agrees to this thinking that they don’t really have a chance of winning anyhow.

The group hits a $150 Million jackpot and everybody, but Aaron is ecstatic. Then the three regulars find out that Jim didn’t actually pay for it this week and feel that he shouldn’t be a part of the winnings. Then, when Aaron finds out that Jim didn’t pay this week he feels that he should be a part of the winnings too, because he usually plays and he didn’t know that you could put it on the tab for next week (or he just lies and says that he told Suzie the same thing as Jim). So now you got about seven angry, arguing co-workers and there really is no clear cut solution.

Hopefully, that scenario didn’t confuse the hell out of you, but I wanted to present a scenario where there really is a no good or bad guy and where the lottery pool can still go awry if the right rules aren’t in place. Since lottery pool scenarios happen like this all the time, here’s a few rules that we can go by to protect ourselves:

1). Have a Trustworthy Person in Charge

Having someone everyone trusts in charge is where every lottery pool needs to start. Without this, you’re going to be looking at all kinds of messes if your group ends up winning. Have somebody that is in charge of asking everyone who is in for each drawing as well as being the person that will go purchase the tickets.

It is important that all of the lottery pool members have complete trust in this person because, since they’re buying the tickets, they can pretty easily claim to have contributed more than they actually did to the pool. Or they could also be even sneakier and claim that they also bought one on the side for themselves. Have them establish a set of rules with the group that will make sure everyone is on the same page at all times.

2). Write Down Who is Participating in Lottery Pool Every Single Time & Have Them Initial

This may seem corny and unnecessary, but it only seems that way because we really don’t think that we’ll win. Whoever is in charge should write down who is playing, how much they’re playing for and have them initial it for every single drawing. Now I know that right now you are thinking that this is something that is stupid, tedious, and unnecessary, but think about how not doing it could cost you millions of dollars down the road.

They don’t have to write it on any kind of special paper or anything, something as simple as a post-it note will do. Just something so that there is absolutely no question who is in the drawing, how much they contributed, and whether they paid or not.

3). Set Basic Rules for Lottery Pool

These should be the basic rules of every single lottery pool:

  • You cannot enter unless you have the money when asked
  • Absolutely no ‘tabs’ or paying people back
  • Paid out percentages go by the amount contributed
  • Meaning the guy that pays $4 will receive more than the guy that pays $2
  • No buying tickets exclusive to you when also participating in lottery pool
  • This protects a lot of different scenarios — we’re not saying that they can’t play on their own if they want, but they can’t play in the lottery pool and then have a ‘side’ ticket that is exclusive to them for the same drawing
  • If you aren’t written down on the sheet, you can’t win
  • It’s everyone’s job to make sure that they have paid and are on the sheet

I’ll be the first person to admit that it’s sad that there need to be any rules set for a lottery pool in the first place. If everyone was honest about their role and what they contributed, there would be no worries and things could go by the honor system. We know, however, that the honor system will never be enough. Money and greed, almost subconsciously, turn people into something they’re not and drives them to do things that they would have never done without it.

Protect yourself and protect your coworkers and friends by establishing these guidelines and rules for your lottery pool. Don’t worry, I know you’re thinking this isn’t necessary because you never win, but it’d suck much worse to actually win and not be a part of it because of a misunderstanding of the way your lottery pool is handled. Seriously, take a second and think of how shitty that would be. Yep, bet you’re going to go right into your office tomorrow and tell your coworkers that you need these rules in place right away.

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