It's an act of good faith that could turn ugly: lottery pools.
Ahead of Tuesday's $1.6 billion (yes, billion) Mega Millions drawing, many people around the country are sharing their lottery dreams with co-workers and pitching money into office pools to buy tickets. But as with all activities involving money, experts warn there are ways lottery pool winners can prevent a case of who-owes-what from heading into court.
"Money often comes between the closets of friends and even family members. When you couple that fact with about 10 added zeros, the emotions can only be hardened," said Rubin Sinins, a lawyer who has consulted various individuals on questions of lottery pools.
The lawyer said "camaraderie" can make participating in an office pool worth it, but says it's best to first establish some ground rules.
"You have to be crystal clear about who is part of the pool and document for everyone involved who is part of the pool," said Sinins, who represented five New Jersey construction workers back in 2009 over a $38.5 million lottery pool dispute.
RELATED: Take a look at lottery winner throughout history:
Lottery winners throughout history
Lottery winners throughout history
Great Grandmother Elizabeth Jones, aged 71, from Warrington in Cheshire who won #8,355,262 (US$13,368,400) in last Saturday night's national lottery poses for photographers with a crystal ball May 5. Jones' granddaughter was told of a windfall this May by a spritualist she visited in October 1997.
Shirley and Frank Capaci show off a check for $104,300,000 during a photo opportunity in Pell Lake, May 27. The Capacis won the largest lottery prize in U.S. history in the "Powerball" drawing of May 20, 1998. Looking on is state of Wisconsin Lottery Director Don Walsh (R).
Sean and Alex Taylor from Whitwick, Leicestershire celerbrate after scooping the jackpot of ?9,512,277 on the National Lottery in Birmingham May 6. The pasties delivery man who has three children screamed with disbelief when he realised the size of his win.
Lucky lottery winner Bruno Calonne (C)holds a board December 3, with the amount of 69.378.690 francs ($ 13.8 million) he won in yesterday's draw, in this northern France city. He is France's biggest winner in the national lottery since it was founded in 1976. L and R are the unidentified loto shop clercks
Powerball Lottery winner Andrew "Jack" Whittaker (R) holds a copy of
his check at lottery headquarters in Charleston, West Virginia, on
December 26, 2002, after winning the $314.9 million jackpot. Looking on
at left are members of Whittaker's family (L to R) daughter Ginger,
grandaughter Brandi Bragg, and wife Jewell. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Joanne (L) and Jorge (R) Lopes of Englishtown, New Jersey, receive
their check for almost $59 million in Trenton, New Jersey April 30,
2002. Jorge Lopes bought the quick-pick Big Game ticket as one of five
he purchased at a foodmart. The couple took home the largest ever
single ticket prize in New Jersey. REUTERS/Chip East
Erika Greene of Lawrenceville, Georgia holding the display check given
to her at the Georgia Lottery headquarters as she and her mother Vicki
Chambless (R) laugh during a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia,
April 17, 2002. Greene who is one of three winners of the Big Game,
bought her winning ticket at Rans Texaco in Dacula, Georgia and will
receive $58,938,743 before taxes. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
Filipino-born hospital worker Pedro Sotomil (R), representing the PFK
Family Partnership, smiles as he is presented a ceremonial check by
Lori Montana (L), director of the Illinois Lottery, at a press
conference in Chicago May 17, 2002, where he claimed his portion of the
$331 million Big Game jackpot. REUTERS/Sue Ogrocki
Sheryel Hanuman (L) of Minneapolis receives a check from George
Andersen, director of the Minnesota State Lottery, at the Lottery's
office in Roseville, Minnesota, August 27, 2001 during the press
conference announcing her as one of four winners of the $295 million
Powerball lottery jackpot from the August 25 drawing. Hanuman plans to
take the cash option of $41.4 million ($27 million after tax
withholding). Hanuman, married and the mother of three boys, bought
five one dollar tickets at a Cub Fods grocery store while shopping for
a friend's wedding card.
EuroMillions lottery winner Angela Kelly smiles as she holds a copy of her winning cheque at a news conference at Airth Castle, Scotland August 15, 2007. Kelly, Britain's biggest lottery winner, was stunned into silence when she realised she'd scooped 35 million pounds ($71 million) with a single ï¿½1.50 ($3) ticket. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN)
Powerball Lottery winners, from left to right, Chasity Rutjens, Alain Maboussou, and Dung Tran, celebrate after each was awarded a check for their share of the record $365 million jackpot in Lincoln, Nebraska February 22, 2006. The group of eight winners selected the cash option, awarding each person US$22,162,500 before tax withholdings. REUTERS/Chris VanKant
Winners of the record $340 million lottery Powerball look at the winning check in Salem, Oregon, November 8, 2005. The winners are: (L-R standing) Frances Chaney, Steve West, Carolyn West and Robert Chaney (seated). The winning ticket will be split between members of the Chaney and West families of Medford, Oregon. The $340 million jackpot drawing on October 19, 2005 was the largest Powerball jackpot ever won and the second largest worldwide jackpot ever. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
Paul White (L), 45, from Ham Lake, Minnesota, stands with his partner Kim VanReese (C) and co-worker Nancy Bowen (R) as he holds a check for his $149.4 million portion of a $448.4 million Powerball jackpot prize at a news conference at Minnesota State Lottery headquarters in Roseville, August 8, 2013. White, the first to come forward to claim his money, was one of three winners of the jackpot. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
Powerball lottery winners known as "The Ocean's 16 group", comprising of workers from an Ocean County garage, pose for a picture after a news conference in Tom's river, New Jersey, August 13, 2013. Sixteen county maintenance department workers from New Jersey submitted the second winning ticket on Monday in the $448 million Powerball lottery, officials said. The group from Ocean County, on the Jersey shore, was presented with a check for $86,054,355, their share of the jackpot after taxes, lottery officials said. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
John Mandley (L) of the Maryland State Lottery is pictured with the ?Three Amigos? who claimed their part of record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot in this picture released to Reuters on April 10, 2012. The Maryland Lottery?s Mega Millions winners are three friends, all of whom work in Maryland?s public education system, who will share the $218.6 million portion of the record-breaking $656 million jackpot from March 30. The winners, who referred to themselves as ?The Three Amigos,? chose the cash option of $158 million. After taxes, the winners will share $105 million, taking home just under $35 million each. REUTERS/Maryland State Lottery/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Mega Millions Jackpot winner Merle Butler (R) and his wife Patricia pose with their check along with Red Bud Mayor Tim Lowry (L) and Illinois Lottery superintendent Michael Jones during a press conference at Red Bud City Hall in Red Bud, Illinois, April 18, 2012. The retired couple described as "good people" by residents of this picturesque Illinois town claimed their one-third share of a record $656 million Mega Millions lottery prize on Wednesday, saying they would invest most of the money. The winning couple, Merle and Patricia Butler, married for 41 years, have lived all their lives in Red Bud, a tidy farming and manufacturing community of 3,700 people in southern Illinois, named for the trees that tower all over town. REUTERS/Illinois Lottery/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Tom Delacenserie (L), Secretary of the Florida Lottery poses with Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt of Melbourne Beach with an oversized check after opting to claim their share in a lump sum payment in a winning ticket, worth $528.8 million, from the Jan. 13 drawing at the state's lottery headquarters in Tallahassee February 17, 2016. The Florida couple claimed their share of last month's record $1.6 billion U.S. Powerball lottery jackpot on Wednesday, coming forward with the second of the three winning tickets. REUTERS/Don Juan Moore
Powerball jackpot co-winners Lisa and John Robinson of Munford, Tennessee, their daughter Tiffany Robinson (L) and Tennessee Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove attend a news conference at the headquarters of the Tennessee Lottery in Nashville, Tennessee January 15, 2016. The couple revealed on the TODAY television show that they held a winning ticket to claim their share of the $1.6 billion Powerball prize. REUTERS/Harrison McClary TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Manuel Franco of West Allis, Wis., winner of second-highest Powerball lottery in history, attends a news conference at the Wisconsin Department of Revenue in Madison, Wis., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. At right is Peter Barca, state secretary of revenue, and at right is Cindy Polzin, state lottery director. Franco claimed the cash option payout of the prize, totaling approximately $477 million before taxes. The overall jackpot of the prize, drawn March 22, was $768,400. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
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The construction workers said a former co-worker was lying when he claimed sole ownership of the ticket. A state court ended up resolving the dispute in 2012 after making Americo Lopes, the defendant in the case, give each of the participating workers $4 million out of the $24 million cash option.
The construction workers aren't the only example of this. John Piccolo was sued by his hospital co-workers after refusing to share the $175,000 he claimed he won in a 2004 Mega Millions lottery.
Indeed, some office pools have even been successful recently, with 11 co-workers in Santa Clara, California, sharing the $543 million Mega Millions prize in July.
"Lottery pools are great way to play," said Carole Gentry, managing director of communications for Maryland Lottery and Gaming. "It's fun to talk about it with your friends, your family. It's great fun."
But like, Sinins, Gentry also emphasized the importance of documenting who gets what.
"If you are going to do a pool, typically get a person who is in charge," Gentry said. "If they are smart about it, they have each person write their name down."
Gentry said the popularity of office pools only grows when jackpots grow. Even Sinins' office will be participating in a pool in Tuesday's record drawing — with a clear set of rules, of course.