Pitfalls of joining the office Powerball pool

Personal Finance

So if you’re joining a pool, take steps to make sure it’s well executed. A number of lawsuits have been filed over the years from workers claiming colleagues unjustly cut them out of an office pool’s winnings.

So formalize the process: Keep a record of who contributes, and ask each participant to sign an acknowledgement that they’ve put in money and joined the pool. Scan in tickets purchased for the group and send them in an email to the participants with a note along the line of “Here are our numbers, this is the group,” said Kurland.

Those steps make it clear who’s splitting the prize and will head off thorny issues, like whether the winning ticket was part of the pool or one the organizer bought for himself.

Check to make sure your pool doesn’t run afoul of office solicitation policies, said Claire Bissot, managing director of CBIZ HR Services. Managers generally see such office pools as a good opportunity for camaraderie, she said, but you could be in for a reprimand if colleagues feel bullied into contribution or wrongly excluded from participating.

That’s assuming, of course, that you don’t win and still have to show up in the office on Thursday.

(Note: A version of this story was originally published Jan. 13, 2016, ahead of the record Powerball jackpot of nearly $1.6 billion.)

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