Be careful when you start office lottery pool
With the Powerball jackpot at $1.5 billion, lots of people are looking to jump into office lottery pools.
While playing the lottery with co-workers can be fun and exciting, winning can actually come at a cost.
Local attorney Vernon Douglas said the greatest problem with office lottery pools is the possibility for misunderstanding.
“When you’re dealing with money, there is always room for misunderstanding,” he said. “It’s important to lay down the rules of your office’s system in advance.”
A 2013 list of five tips on Forbes.com gives employees a plan on how to stay safe when considering entering a lotto pool:
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• Keep the tickets safe. Keep the original tickets in a safe but accessible place.
Local employment law attorney Patrick Douglas, who said he has had a few clients call him while considering entering a pool, said while Forbes’ tips are good, they may not be the most practical.
“I’m not sure that a signed contract is necessary, but at the very least shoot out an email and list the names of people in the pool,” he said. “Attach a picture of the tickets, let everyone know who has them and who will check the numbers on the night of the drawing.”
Patrick Douglas said the most important step is confirming who is in the pool a few days before the drawing, just to give everyone a chance to enter and make sure they are on the list if they have bought a ticket.
He also noted that it is completely legal for employers to ban lottery pools from their offices completely.
“In the state of Florida an employee can be fired for any non-discriminatory reason,” he said. “So whether it’s your hairdo or the fact that you’re playing the lottery at work, an employer can fire you if they don’t like it.
Patrick Douglas said one of the main points to remember when playing in a lottery pool is to have fun doing it.
“It’s good to be prepared and smart, but be practical,” he said. “But make sure not to take the fun out of it.”