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How to run an office pool without getting sued: Five tips

The B.C. Lottery Corporation is allowing the winner of B.C.’s largest Lotto 6/49 jackpot to remain anonymous.
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A Surrey man is being sued by four of his co-workers after winning the $1-million Maxmillions prize in December and refusing to share the prize with them.

According to the quartet, Hung Sengsouvanh was given $5 by each to purchase a $25 ticket for the Lotto Max jackpot for Dec. 14, 2018, with a verbal agreement that any winnings from the lottery would be divided evenly amongst the five.

But then Sengsouvanh, the “lead hand” at their factory, didn’t show up to work the following Monday; the group would later learn via social media that he had purchased a winning ticket, and had no plans to divide the winnings into five equal payouts of $200,000.

Hence, the lawsuit, which claims “the defendant Hung has repeatedly refused to provide the plaintiffs with their equal shares of the prize.”

It’s not the first time that an office-pool winner has ended up in court, and it likely won’t be the last. But if you’re hoping to avoid suing to reap your earnings after your office wins big, here are five tips “that may help avoid any misunderstandings,” from the BCLC.

Appoint a group captain

The group captain’s job is to represent the group, and not himself. According to the BCLC, the best way to do this is simple: “When purchasing a ticket at retail, the group captain should print his or her name on the front or back, along with the words ‘In Trust’, which indicates that the ticket belongs to a group.” That will go a long way toward proving that this was a group effort, and not a solo show from the winning ticket purchaser.

Keep a record of who is participating

“It’s always a good idea to have a record of which group members have contributed to the ticket purchases,” BCLC advises. To do this, you can download a Group Play Agreement Form, and provide each group member with a copy of the completed form so there is no confusion.

Ask for a group copy ticket

The best way to keep a group captain honest: Ask for a group copy ticket that can be distributed to each group member. That’s even better than a form, since it will allow each group member to check the numbers if they wish. Plus it will avoid confusion regarding who’s involved. Don’t have a group copy ticket? Then you’re not involved.

Understand what happens if a group member does not contribute for a draw

It’s very important to be clear to all group members about what happens if someone fails to contribute to a draw. Establish those rules and communicate them to all group members ahead of time.

Don’t write your company name on your ticket

And finally, you may be organizing an office pool at your workplace, but do your best to leave your workplace out of it. As the BCLC notes, “if the group is organized at your workplace, don’t write your company name on the ticket, as this could imply your company may have a stake in the prize.”

If you think fighting with your co-workers about money is a pain, imagine the headache of also having to fight with your employer.

By Harrison Mooney

Follow @harrisonmooney

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