A lottery pool is a group of players who buy tickets together to try and win prizes. It is often easier to purchase multiple entries when you play in a pool, which boosts your chances of winning. You split the cost of playing and then share the winnings.
Find out more about group play below, including how to start a lottery club, how to claim, and what to do if you win.
How to Start a Lottery Pool
It’s easy to start a lottery pool. You can play with friends or family members, or maybe get a team together at your workplace. You should also make sure to create a set of rules that everyone agrees to abide by. This may seem unnecessary if you are playing with people you are close to, but it helps to guard against any disputes further down the line.
It is up to you how many members to have in your pool. The bigger the group, the more tickets you would be able to purchase, although managing a pool could become challenging if there are too many of you. It is a good idea to have one person as the leader, although others may be needed to help out or double-check results. The leader should be trustworthy and willing to take on the majority of these responsibilities. Here are some of the main points to decide on before you start:
- Consider which lottery you want to play. Decide if you’ll be entering every draw, or one a week.
- How many sets of numbers will you play? Lottery pools commonly play one line per member, but it’s entirely up to you. You’ll need to think about whether you play the same numbers each time, or always use Quick Picks.
- Everyone needs to pay their share. Work out how often you will collect money from each person, and what you will do if someone does not pay in time.
- The group needs to buy its tickets in time for each draw. Designate someone to buy them, whether they will be online or paper tickets, and decide where to keep them.
- Think about how you will check the results after a draw, whether it should be the same person each time or whether a couple of you should review them together.
- How will the winnings be distributed? You’ll need to decide who should collect the winnings, whether they will be paid out every week, or saved up for longer if they are mostly small payouts.
It is sensible to make your agreement formal by using a sign-up sheet, so you know exactly who is in the group and whether everyone has paid their entry fee for each draw.
What Happens if Your Pool Wins
If your pool wins, the same rules for how to claim apply as if you played on your own. Only one person can be paid a prize of up to $600. This will be the case for the majority of prizes, and then that person will be in charge of sharing out the winnings between the group.
If the prize is $600 or more, the claim form still needs to be filled out in one person’s name, but IRS Form 5754 needs to be filed alongside it. Everyone in the group will need to include their details on this form, and fill out a winner questionnaire. The Illinois Lottery can then issue a check to each member of the group for their portion of the prize.
For prizes of $1 million or more, your group may be able to form a partnership and secure a federal identification number. You can then state on the formal partnership agreement if you want individual checks issued. Attach the partnership agreement to the claim form. You will need to include the names and Social Security numbers of members.
If your group wins a Lotto, Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot, you must all choose the same payment option of cash or annuity.
For the purposes of dividing the tax liability between members of the group, the Illinois Lottery will issue an IRS W-2G Form to each individual member.
Past Lottery Pool Winners
The biggest win in Illinois Lottery history went to a partnership of two players in July 2022. The duo had an agreement to buy tickets together and split winnings, and were rewarded in the grandest of style when their Mega Millions numbers came up to net them a joint payout of $1.3 billion. The record holders opted to stay anonymous, but you can find out more about their story on the Winners page.
Another big win came back in December 2010, when an Oak Park family of five pocketed half of a Powerball jackpot worth $37.5 million. They purchased a ticket on their son’s birthday and were left in a state of ‘disbelief’ when they discovered they had won a payout of $18.7 million.
There have been plenty of bigger groups that have struck it lucky too. The Millersburg Pool, a club of 117 players from a single small town, joined forces to win $1 million in the special St Patrick’s Day Millionaire Raffle in March 2012.
In November 2014, a group of 42 employees from the ComEd electricity company in Oakbrook won a Mega Millions prize worth $1 million. The group, known as 42 MEGAwatts, had been playing together for over six years before they won the payout, which worked out at more than $23,000 each.