When Lottery Syndicates Go Wrong
Lottery syndicates have often found themselves on the winning end of many draws over the years. Several times over the course of The National Lottery’s existence, syndicates of varying numbers of people have purchased tickets with different lines of numbers on them and then shared out their winnings amongst everyone involved. Often formed between work colleagues or family groups, syndicates simply serve as a nice alternative to play lottery games, and they can result in multiple people benefitting from a single winning line on a ticket.
Yet there are also occasions where lottery syndicates have gone wrong, resulting in arguments over how to divide the cash out and some people being left out in the dark over the winnings. How often has this happened, though? And what exactly are the rules surrounding syndicates? Does something in specific need to be in place so as to make it a legal group of people betting on the lottery draws? Join us for a closer look at some details about lottery syndicates and stories of instances where these have gone terribly wrong.
The Rules Around Lottery Syndicates
Should you want to start a lottery syndicate with colleagues at work or amongst a group of friends, or even with other family members, then you can do this easily enough. You don’t need to be licensed or given specific permission to engage in or start a lottery syndicate. However, one key point to remember about such is that you need to ensure the syndicate is operating in a certain way. This ensures that it won’t be classed as you “promoting a lottery” under the UK’s Gambling Act 2005.
To find out how a lottery syndicate works, there is some simple advice from the UK Gambling Commission.
You do not need to acquire any sort of licence if you are the one organising the lottery syndicate. Your task, as the organiser, is to purchase lottery tickets from one of the available outlets or online for the necessary games, and then if one of them is a winning ticket, you need to distribute the winnings amongst the syndicate members.
Let’s use an example. In a traditional syndicate, person A would offer to purchase a line or a ticket for specific draws, utilising the money of persons B, C, D, and E (or however many people want to participate in the syndicate). As far as The National Lottery is concerned, person A is considered to be the only ticket holder. This means that any prize would only be distributed by the lottery to person A. The others involved in the syndicate would not have any direct claim to the funds. Instead, it would be down to person A to hand out the prize to each paying participant, should any of the tickets involved win. Therefore, persons B, C, D, and E would all receive their fair share of the prize money.
Person A in this example would avoid being labelled as a lottery promoter, therefore meaning that they are not committing a felony against section 252 of the Gambling Act 2005. Other than this being a necessity, there is little else you need to know about organising and/or participating in a lottery syndicate. Groups of people can be organised into a syndicate for any of the available lottery games – Lotto, EuroMillions, Set for Life, Thunderball, Hotpicks, EuroMillions Hotpicks.
The National Lottery itself does lay out some other guidelines to setting up a syndicate, although this is more so how to make it work out, rather than official law. Obviously, a syndicate needs to agree on who the manager of everything will be, which games and draws will tickets be purchased for, how many lines will be played, when everyone needs to pay for their participation, what will happen if someone misses a payment, and so on. You can also set up an online account as a syndicate, with the manager listing themselves as such. Additionally, Camelot provides you with the possibility of downloading a syndicate agreement, which everyone participating in the group can sign. This will make things a lot easier should a win occur, meaning that nobody will be left out of receiving their share.
Theoretically, a syndicate should be easy to manage and everyone within the group should be able to receive their fair share without issue. However, various stories from the past and recently prove that this isn’t always the case.
£1 Million Syndicate Win for DVLA Group Sees Members Argue Over Prize Distribution
Back in 2013, a lottery syndicate was on the receiving end of a £1 million win. That syndicate consisted of 16 colleagues who all worked for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). With the win, each participant was due to receive a payout of £62,500, thanks to one of their tickets being a winner in one of the EuroMillions draws in March. Yet instead of this being handed out equally, internal rows erupted over the prize funds.
Three members of the syndicate were accused of not paying into that week’s draw, and this left them unsure of how to distribute the prize funds. Things soon turned nasty, and Camelot had to try and intervene as mediator in the argument. Even senior officials within the DVLA became embroiled in the situation.
If the workers who did not pay into that week’s tickets were excluded from their share, then each of the other members would obtain an extra £14,423 each.
One of the members of the DVLA syndicate said, “It’s like some out of that television show, I can’t believe the way they are acting”, referring to the BBC drama entitled The Syndicate. “It’s all a bit awkward and there’s a bad atmosphere – it’s terrible how people can turn so nasty when a bit of money is involved”, they continued.
While Camelot does provide syndicate contracts that you can download, that particular syndicate did not have one, nor had they drawn up their own paperwork for such. It was thought that the DVLA workers would hold a vote to see how the money would eventually be distributed.
The £38 Million Lotto Syndicate Win That Led to Misery for All Involved
In 2012, a report was released regarding a group of bus drivers who had involved themselves in a lottery syndicate. Participating in the weekly draws, they eventually came up trumps, pocketing a win of £38 million, which provided each participant in the syndicate with £3 million. With that kind of money, none of them would have ever needed to continue in their roles as bus drivers.
Yet it seems as though each man involved in the win discovered that securing such a payout has led to its own sort of misery. Four of the people involved in the syndicate upped and left their hometown of Corby, Northants, with two of them even moving to a completely different country. And why? Because of problems that they had within their families – other people trying to secure their own share of the funds – through to total strangers trying to sponge money off of them. One of them even admitted that the pressure of securing such wealth had driven him to start smoking again.
“I’ve had to learn to adapt to having a huge amount of money and keeping track of everything. You can’t be too extravagant, it’s better to err on the side of caution. I don’t buy brand new even though I can afford to. The transition from being broke to rich has been tough. Now I’ve got lots of money, I’ve got to be careful. It has to last.”, said one of the winners John Noakes. He continued on to speak of losing track of some of his friends, who had abandoned him due to his new wealthy status. Not only that, but he offered to help out his former employees when they were short-staffed during the London Olympics period, but they snubbed his offer, despite him offering to help free of charge. John also spoke of people begging him for money and alcohol that he has never even spoken to before.
One of the other syndicate winners, Alex Robertson also quit his job as a bus driver following the payout. He chose to quit Britain and emigrate to Cyprus due to family rows after his win. Those scenarios finished with him in hospital suffering from chest pains. He commented on the situation as bringing him “nothing but grief”.
A Pregnancy That Halts a Woman from Obtaining Her Fair Share
In July of 2013, a group of office staff chose to take the day of work, having become millionaires overnight. The 10 workers scooped a massive £28 million between them when they won the EuroMillions as a syndicate. All of them chose to instantly leave their positions at their Kirkby office, leaving bosses scrambling to find replacements in a hurry. However, it wasn’t all excitement for the crowd of workers.
A fellow colleague threatened to take them all to court after saying she had missed out on the win herself due to taking a day off work with morning sickness. The 31-year-old pregnant woman, Louise Whitby, said that she failed to pay her own £2 towards the syndicate because she wasn’t in the office on that date, and therefore missed out on being a part of the £28 million win. This led to Louise hiring her own solicitor to fight for a portion of the prize money.
She stated, “I’ve paid into that syndicate every week for the past two years, but last week I was off work with morning sickness. When I came back in this week, I said I still wanted to pay in, but they said I should just buy some lucky dips with the money instead. That money will never buy them happiness. I considered them my friends, but I can never speak to them again”.
Even though she had hired herself a solicitor, he said that he didn’t believe Louise would be successful in her attempts. “If you don’t pay, you don’t win”, he commented.
A Tale from Across the Seas to a Land Down Under
It’s bound to be a great moment when a lottery win of £8.4 million comes your way, and even as a member of a syndicate, you can expect to receive a nice portion of that. However, when Gary Baron of Victoria, Australia discovered that his syndicate had won that amount, he went on the run with the money!
Baron, aged 49, called in sick to his courier job at Toll Group, and then proceeded to purchase a top-of-the-range BMW, as well as a luxury house with the AUS$16.6 million payout. Yet it turned out that he was part of a 15-person syndicate, and the other members of such challenged him on the win. He proceeded to inform them and others that he had won the huge amount the previous year and would fight them in court for it.
The other members of the syndicate believe that they should each receive more than AUS$1 million from the win. Baron shared the country’s AUS$50 million jackpot with two other winners, and just one day after the victory, he told the press that it was too much money for him and that he was in “disbelief”.
In the end, the case was taken to court, and it was determined that Baron had reached a settlement with the 14 other syndicate members. The court was informed of how he was in charge of collecting AUS$20 from each member to purchase lottery tickets on behalf of the whole group. And with that, there was an understanding that any winnings would be split equally between everyone.
Even though each of the other syndicate participants claimed that Baron should pay each of them AUS$1 million, as they rightfully deserved, it was more likely that they would receive less than that as a result of the court case. Specifics were never given as to the settlement that had been reached between the members of the syndicate, though.