When Powerball syndicates go bad

Tips for setting up a lottery group.

Last week a woman pocketed an eye watering $60 million in Powerball. Great result for her but history has shown that it’s not always champagne, hugs and nudie runs when that life-changing call comes in.

Remember when a group of Sydney factory workers won $40 million on Powerball and their co-worker, who said he’d paid for his share but was booted from the syndicate after the draw, got zero?  18 months of legal battles later … turns out he was a regular contributor to one syndicate, but another group had been set up for the $40m draw, which he wasn’t a part of, and that group won. Ouch!

And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a clash over cash.

In 2015, a group of Toll courier workers in Victoria claimed they were cheated out of a $16.7 million Powerball win after their (now-ex) friend quit his job and ran off with the winnings.   He said he won a share of the $50m jackpot with a personal ticket and most definitely, hand on heart, pinky swear, not with the syndicate’s tickets that he bought around the same time.  They didn’t believe him and sued.

A confidential settlement was reached in the Court case so we’ll never know the truth but what should you do to avoid ruining friendships, missing out on millions and having to hire lawyers?

  1. Appoint one person that’s responsible for the syndicate and be clear what’s expected of them.
  2. Set up a lottery account that’s used only for the syndicate – don’t mix personal tickets with group tickets in the one account.
  3. Set out clear rules that everyone agrees to (people always go rogue) that includes things like:
    • what happens when someone doesn’t pay their share before the ticket is purchased but is otherwise a regular contributor – are they in or out of the draw?
    • If one syndicate member loans another member money to cover their share that week, who owns that share of the winnings?
    • personal tickets are owned by the person that bought them.
    • What happens to the winnings for each draw? eg. If they are under a certain amount do they go back into the ‘pot’ to pay for future tickets, and larger amounts get distributed to paying members?
  1. Keep track of payments and be clear on who paid for the ticket each week.
  2. Give everyone a copy of the ticket or post a copy on the noticeboard before the draw.

At the end of the day, no matter how close you are to the people in the group, good communication before the draw is critical.

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