Playing It Safe: Office Lottery Pools

Officials Offer Tips To Avoid Disputes

A Baltimore woman who claimed to have won Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot is under fire from her co-workers who say they should share in the winnings.

Merlande Wilson said she has one of three winning tickets from the $656 million jackpot.

Wilson said she and her McDonald’s co-workers pitched in to buy a group of tickets, but she claims the winning ticket was purchased separately by another co-worker.

Wilson’s co-workers are disputing her claims, and the situation has raised questions in office lottery pools across the country.

In Indiana, officials advised Hoosiers participating in office pools to play it smart.

"A lot of times, people enter these things as a fun, team-building activity, but if you’re serious about enforcing it, in the end, you will want to have it in writing,” attorney Richard Shevitz said. “At its core, it’s a matter of a contract. A contract is an agreement, a meeting of the minds.”

Making copies of the ticket is key, because without duplicates, it could be hard to prove who is also entitled to the winnings, RTV6's Rafael Sanchez reported.

“The courts look for certainty. Possession is 9/10 of the law because you know who holds the ticket. They don't know who else may have joined unless you can show something,” Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.

In Indiana, a lottery office pool dispute could be heard before a judge or jury. A person not wanting to share their lottery ticket may want to avoid a jury. Legal experts said the person could appear as greedy and unwilling to share their winnings.

Hoosier Lottery officials said potential winners should sign lottery tickets the moment that they are purchased. If the ticket is purchased by a group, each person will have to show identification before claiming the prize.

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