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Before you play in an office lottery pool, read this

<i>SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>A machine prints Powerball lottery tickets at a convenience store in Washington
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
A machine prints Powerball lottery tickets at a convenience store in Washington

By Holly Yan, CNN

(CNN) — With jackpots reaching ludicrous amounts, lottery pools are quickly flooding offices.

At first, they sound like a great idea. Why play alone, when teaming up with your coworkers could improve your odds of hitting the jackpot?

But before you either chip in or organize an office pool, experts say you should know the following do’s and don’ts. They could mean the difference between buying your own private island vs. crying softly at your desk while your coworkers are on their islands.


Designate a leader. And make sure he or she is highly organized. Because this isn’t just about collecting money and buying tickets. The organizer will also have to:

Give everyone copies or photos of pool tickets. Wouldn’t it be terrible if your pool leader said the team won nothing, but amazingly he or she hit the jackpot with a self-purchased ticket?

It’s happened before. In 2013, a group of Indiana hairstylists sued their coworker after that coworker claimed she had purchased a $9.5-million-winning ticket with her own money – not the pool’s money, CNN affiliate WXIN reported.

It’s incumbent on pool leaders to send images of the tickets before the drawing. If they don’t, pool participants should demand them.

Emailing photos of pool tickets doesn’t just make sure players know which numbers belong to the pool. It also ensures the organizer is actually buying tickets, rather than just pocketing his or her coworkers’ cash.

Email the list of players (every time you play). This helps protect the pool leader. At a certain cutoff time before each drawing, email everyone to say who’s paid. This prevents random coworkers from trying to cash in post-victory.


Don’t use cash: If possible, pay your pool leader with an electronic account – such as PayPal or Venmo – so you have written confirmation of your payment for a certain lottery.

Electronic accounts can also help the organizer keep track of who’s in. And they’re a lot less messy than wadded up dollar bills dropped on your desk.

If you must use cash, make sure to see your organizer’s list of who’s paid.

Don’t make verbal promises: A verbal “IOU” probably won’t cut it if the pool wins and you say, “Well, I was going to pay.” But thanks to electronic payment accounts, it’s easy to pay the organizer anytime, anywhere, or in advance of the next lottery if you’re not going to be available.

Don’t get overwhelmed: Yes, this is a lot of work. Who said winning an avalanche of cash was easy? But if anyone – especially the pool manager – starts feeling overwhelmed, there are apps for that.

For example, Jackpocket can help pool leaders purchase tickets and distribute any winnings. For those who work alone or don’t want to dive into an office pool with colleagues, the app’s “Public Pools” allow players to join others trying to nab a huge jackpot.

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