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How do lottery syndicates work?

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You’ve heard of Ocean’s 11, you’ve heard of Ocean’s 8, but the biggest winners of all might be Ocean’s 16. This group of 16 public employees won one third of a $448 million powerball jackpot in August 2013, and they didn’t even have to pull off a high stakes robbery.

So how did they do it? They joined a lottery syndicate.

Lottery syndicates are becoming an increasingly popular way to increase the likelihood of winning the lottery. We know they can yield big payouts, but how exactly do they work?

What are lottery syndicates?

A lottery syndicate is a group that enters the lottery together. By pooling their money, buying multiple tickets, and sharing any winnings, people in a lottery syndicate are significantly more likely to win the jackpot, bearing in mind anything they do win will have to be shared. When it comes to big wins like Ocean 16’s, though, a jackpot shared is still a major windfall.

The main advantage of a lottery syndicate is the increased odds of winning. If you enter the Euromillions lottery alone, you’ll have approximately a one in 140,000,000 chance of winning the jackpot. If you enter with a group of, say, 19 more players, together you’ll have a 20 in 140,000,000 chance of winning, though you’ll only receive one 20th of the money. For syndicate members, this is a more than worthy trade-off: it’s better to win something together than to win nothing alone.

How do you join a lottery syndicate?

If you’re interested in chipping into a lottery syndicate yourself, you might be wondering how best to go about doing it. Luckily, there are a couple of different approaches you can take.

  1. Start your own

Starting your own lottery syndicate is always an option. The UK National Lottery has a good guide on how to do this. The first step is to decide who you are inviting to join. Like the wildly successful Ocean’s 16, many lottery syndicates are comprised of coworkers. By some counts it’s up to two thirds of all syndicates.

Once you have your dream team together, you have to agree practicalities like how the syndicate will work, how much everyone will pay, how payments will be made and who will buy the tickets.

  1. Join a lottery syndicate online

If you’d rather participate in an existing syndicate, and your workplace doesn’t already have one, a great way to do this is to join one online. Lottery syndicate websites like Lotto Social, Lottoland and LottoGo allow players to join some of the biggest syndicates in the world, boosting their chances of winning by a huge amount.

There are also lottery syndicates run via Facebook groups. One group, Gary’s Players, won £1.1 million in the Euromillions, splitting the money 38 ways. Each player took home at least £21,000 even though some of them had never met. The group did grow out of a smaller group of family and friends, but many prefer joining up with strangers to avoid potential family arguments or in-fighting, and even just to be part of a group with more members.

What happens if your lottery syndicate wins?

Even though a large group of you have entered the lottery, the likelihood is that only one of your tickets will be a winner. So what happens to the winnings?

You may be worried about one member of the syndicate betraying the others and keeping the winnings for themselves. This is what happened in 2015, when one syndicate member in Australia kept a AUS$16.6 million windfall to himself when he allegedly should have shared it with his work syndicate.

The best way to avoid situations like these is to sign a syndicate agreement when you join or start yours. This document will help a syndicate agreement hold up in court if anyone does try to break it, and detail exactly how the money is shared should any tickets be successful.