If you’re chasing mega lottery jackpots, then joining a lottery pool might be for you. The more tickets your group plays, the greater your chances of winning a top prize.
Everyone in your pool will have better odds of winning without paying more money. The downside is that each member gets a share of the win, which reduces the amount won by each individual who owns a prize share.
What Are Lottery Pools?
A lottery pool is a group of people who pool their money together to buy lottery tickets. If any of the group purchased tickets win a prize, then each member of the pool gets their share of the pot.
It’s essentially a trade-off. Being part of a lottery pool will boost your odds of winning, without paying more money, but the payout you’ll receive is only a portion based on how many people are in the pool/shares you own.
How Do Lottery Pools Work?
Imagine your lottery pool has 20 members, where every member/coworker who contributes $5 into the draw pool, receives a 5% share of the total winnings. Rather than a single person paying $100 per draw to get the same odds of winning, they only pay $5 which is a lot more manageable.
With 20 members participating, you will have a pool of $100 for each draw you decide to play. If you’re playing Mega Millions or Powerball, this would mean your group would be able to purchase 50 tickets at $2 each, whereas a single person could only purchase 2 tickets with a $5 investment
If you’re playing a $5 lottery, like Lotto Max in Canada, this would equate to 20 tickets
For players of the $2 Mega-lotteries, rather than having just two shots at the jackpot for $5, everyone in the pool would get 50 chances to win, For the $5 Lotto Max players, rather than having just three shot at the jackpot, each player will get 60 chances to hit the jackpot for the same $5 investment.
The catch-22 to playing in a lottery pool is that when you win, you’ll have to share the jackpot prize with every participating member of the group. If your group consists of 20 members, then you’d also split the jackpot 20 ways.
With a minimum jackpot of $20 million for Powerball and Mega Millions, a lottery pool with 20 members would allow for a minimum $1M share for a $5 per draw investment. In Lotto Max, where the minimum jackpot starts at $10 million you only get a $500K share, but could also postpone play until the jackpots reach $20 Million or more.
Some lottery pools allow members to own multiple shares so they can increase their prize money should the group win. The more money they contribute the bigger piece of jackpot pie they own.
If a person buys 4 shares at $5 each out of 20 total from the lottery pool, they would own a 20% share of all prize winnings or $4 Million of a $20 Million jackpot.
For small prizes, lottery pool members normally agree to have them roll over into the next draw, instead of cashing out. This allows them to buy even more tickets, gaining extra shots at the jackpot without spending any more money out of pocket.
For example, if the pool hits on a $10 prize, instead of giving $0.50 to each participant, they agree to buy $10 worth of additional tickets in the next draw. For a $500 prize win, they might simply state that no one has to pay for the next 5 weeks, or that they double the number of tickets purchased for the next 5 weeks.
In order to start a lottery pool, a person must be chosen to run the group. Generally, the manager will have everyone sign a standard lottery pool contract, then be responsible for collecting money, buying tickets, and dolling out prize win shares.
Are Lottery Pools Worth It?
The chances of winning the lottery are very small no matter what you do, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll hit a jackpot. But lottery pools do let you boost your chances without increasing your risk of losing your investment.
Lottery pools have won big jackpots in the past. For example:
- 11 co-workers in Calfornia won the state’s largest lottery prize ever, sharing a $543 million, Mega Million Jackpot.
- 7 IT workers at New York State’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal in Albany won a whopping $319 million, Mega Millions jackpot, with an 8th regular player actually passing on the winning draw.
- 20 employees from Quaker Oats in Iowa divided up a $241 million Powerball jackpot, and a few months later, won a $10,000+ prize as well.
- 20 Long Island Costco workers shared a $201.9 million Powerball jackpot.
- A 48-person office lottery pool at SEPTA, a Pennsylvania transit agency, divvied up a Powerball jackpot for $172.7 million.
- 5 friends from Yonkers, NY split a $106 million, Mega Millions jackpot.
Who Can Join?
Office lottery pools are popular because it’s easy to get a big group of people to chip in a few bucks toward a chance of winning. A pool also encourages people to get to know one another across departments and can boost morale.
But any group of people can create their own lottery pool. Groups of friends or relatives, your local sweepstakes club, neighbors in an apartment complex, or members of any other social group might be interested in participating.
Below you find details answer to our most frequently asked questions about lottery pools.
Depending on your location, lottery pools may be restricted or illegal, so it’s important to check before you decide to start one. Lottery pools are a form of gambling. In the United States, there are no federal laws prohibiting gambling, but individual states can, and do, regulate it. If gambling is prohibited in your state, lottery pools are as well.
If you’re wondering whether playing the lottery is legal in your state, check whether your state runs a lottery. If your state has no lottery, it’s a strong indication that gambling might be illegal.
You can also search for your state’s gambling laws. Findlaw has a list of state gambling laws that are a worthwhile read if your lottery pool is US-based.
Yes. In some companies, gambling on the job is considered a fireable offense.
Aside from laws prohibiting gambling, you also want to be sure that your workplace does not prohibit lottery pools during work hours. Before you start an office lottery pool, check your business’ code of conduct or employee handbook to see if there’s a no-gambling policy. If you’re still not sure, check with your company’s human resources department.
If you are a government employee or a civilian working at a government facility, you face additional restrictions. According to Cornell Law School, lottery pools that take placeon Government-owned or leased property or on-duty for the Government are strictly prohibited.
Before you get started, check with local laws and with your company’s human resources department (if you’re starting an office lottery pool) to ensure you are not breaking any laws or guidelines that could turn a fun lottery pool into a serious problem. If you decide to go ahead with your pool, make sure you have a good contract to protect yourself and your coworkers.
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
With a lot of money on the line, people can act badly and try to cheat fellow players. Lottery pool members have been sued for various reasons, including conflicts over who participated in the pool, whether tickets were purchased privately or for the group, whether the proper numbers were played, and more.
There have also been cases where unscrupulous people collected money for lottery pools then pocketed the cash without ever buying the tickets. These problems can be avoided with a little preparation.