Jackpot Could Lead To Office Pool DisputesBy Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A half a billion dollars — now that’s a Powerball jackpot — and pooling your dollars at work to buy more tickets is a popular option.

“We did a small pool with the employees that are here today,” Jodi Mitchell told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.

Mitchell is the manager at Spartan Pharmacy in Bethel Park, which also sells a lot of lottery tickets.

“Somebody comes in with an envelope full of money,” said Jamie McClelland, a clerk at the pharmacy. “They just want to buy a group of tickets for everybody in the office or wherever they work, and there all going to split it.”

Statistically, the odds don’t change much buying 50 or 100 tickets, but Powerball pools can mount up.

“A couple hundred dollars I’ve seen them buy,” says McClelland.

But lottery officials say office pools have caused issues in the past.

Karen Kafton, of Follansbee, West Virginia, is part of a pool at her office.

Delano: “Do you have any kind of written agreement on how you’re going to split it up?”

Kafton: “No written agreement. Just trying to be honest, taking each other’s word for it, but no.”

That’s pretty typical.

Suppose you buy a bunch of Powerball tickets for your office pool, and you happen to win something. How are you going to split it? Should you really have a written agreement stating all that, or are you going to get in a lot of fights in court?

We all know — money changes everything.

“It makes people say things that they would not ordinarily say,” says Pittsburgh attorney Todd Elliott.

Elliott focuses on contract law, and he says without a written agreement a judge could decide who gets what based on the testimony of co-workers.

“So you probably know and like and trust your co-workers but when you have money and a financial stake at issue, that could be a very bad time to find, to learn something about them that you wished you had known in advance,” he said.

Elliott says you don’t need a lawyer, just a piece of paper signed by everyone in the pool.

“It should be something simple, at least a line or two, saying what portion each person will receive.”

That should keep all the office winners happy.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter