TRENTON – Last week, a jury determined that Elizabeth construction worker Americo Lopes’ Mega Millions lottery win was not solely his and that he unjustly excluded the lottery group of former coworkers from their share of the winnings.
There are thousands of group lottery pools in New Jersey and beyond and this case should give the members pause to consider how they may avoid this expensive and emotionally wrenching experience.
The New Jersey Lottery offers guidelines that specifically address group lottery play that may eliminate a potential crisis.
Carole Hedinger, New Jersey Lottery Executive Director says, “First and foremost, know the rules of your particular group. For example, if a person is not in the office on the day the lottery ticket money is collected, will that person be excluded from the potential win or will they be considered ‘in’ because they typically play? There are many rules that need to be ironed out and put in writing, distributed to all the players and adhered to when questions arise
Here are some guidelines issued by the NJ Lottery that will keep the game fun, exciting and fair for all group players.
- Know the rules of your office pool and put them in writing. Group play details should be discussed, written and distributed to all members as the group’s official rules. Some issues to address include: if a regular playing member is not present on lottery collection day will they be included or excluded? What if a regular player has someone else put in money towards their game share, do both players receive an equal share? Can players come in and out of the group? When the rules are in writing, there is no question on how to split the funds and who is in the pool and who is not.
- Get copies of your tickets. This is essential to keeping group play fun and controversy free. Make certain all members receive a copy of all tickets purchased for your pool PRIOR to the lottery drawing. This should include the serial numbers on the back of the tickets.
- The ticket purchaser must designate personally purchased tickets prior to a drawing. These tickets should not be included in the distributed copies of the group tickets.
- Get the names and phone numbers of everyone involved in your pool . In particular, you should get this information for the individuals who are in charge of purchasing the tickets and the person who will hold the tickets.
- Know where and when your tickets are being purchased. Get that information before the drawing. Find out the name and address of the retailer that the ticket buyer plans to visit as well as the approximate time of purchase.
The Guidelines for Participating in Office Pools are also available online at NJLottery.net by following the General Information link at the bottom of the home page screen.
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