A lottery syndicate is an agreement among a group of people to pool their resources and buy a bunch of tickets on the understanding that all prizes won will be distributed equally among all syndicate members. The purpose of syndicates is to make it affordable for each person to play more tickets and therefore increase their chances of winning a big payout.
The classic example of a lottery syndicate is a bunch of coworkers all putting their money together and buying a batch of tickets – usually when the national lottery has hit an exceptional level after rolling over multiple times. Office syndicates are usually just informal agreements among coworkers, but they do indeed pay off from time to time.
Although it is impossible to change the odds of any one ticket winning the jackpot, a lottery syndicate does actually improve the odds of each person winning the jackpot – at a cost of having to split any winnings. Here’s something to chew on when considering whether or not to try a syndicate:
According to the UK National Lottery, 1 in 5 lottery jackpots are won by syndicates. This stat was provided in the National Lotto syndicate information pack and it spans all top prizes won in the National Lotto, EuroMillions and EuroMillions UK.
Best Lottery Sites for Syndicates
Syndicates are one of the few lottery strategies we endorse around here, but they do have their downsides. First is the one we already mentioned: you are obligated to split all winnings. If you win the top jackpot, you will be splitting the whole thing with all your friends. Then again, you probably won’t care too much if the jackpot is big enough. After all, it is better to win part of a jackpot than nothing at all.
The other potential downside is more serious. Informal syndicates can lead to nasty legal battles if there is a disagreement of some sort after a major win. If the person who has physical possession of the ticket refuses to share the winnings or if your group claims you forgot to pay up that week, you’ll be looking at an intense court battle with an uncertain outcome. Big sums of money can wreak havoc on what was formerly a closely-knit group of friends, family or coworkers.
You can draw up contracts ahead of time and try to get everyone to agree to the terms before you play, but you’ll need to get everyone on the same page and hope your agreement holds up if it is ever contested by a savvy lawyer in front of a judge.
Online Lottery Syndicates Save the Day
Online lottery syndicates avoid all the hassle and potential downfalls by operating the syndicate on behalf of everyone involved. When you participate in a syndicate sponsored by a reputable lottery site, the site itself buys the tickets and splits the winnings automatically.
Online syndicates collect all payments up front and maintain clear records documenting who has participated in each drawing and who has not. Recurring syndicates can also be combined with automatic recurring payments so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to pay (missed payments are a huge source of legal trouble in casual syndicates).
If you participate in a syndicate managed by a reputable lottery site, you can know things will be simple, straightforward and uncomplicated. Smaller winnings will be credited straight to your account and bigger winnings will be handled by the lottery site, which acts as an impartial mediator among all syndicate members.
Online syndicates remove a lot of the ambiguity that tends to creep its way into informal syndicates. Things can get complicated when your casual syndicate starts extending credit to people who are absent from work, when proper records aren’t kept and when the only records you keep are what you remember of verbal agreements made months or years ago.
Everything is black-and-white in an online lottery syndicate. Every syndicate member either pays and participates or doesn’t. Winnings are always paid automatically. And if someone does get lawyers involved, other syndicate members and the lottery site have clear records to refer to.
You have more flexibility in choosing who how much of a piece of the action you have. Online syndicates are broken up into shares and you can choose as many shares as you wish. This gives you control over how much your share of prizes is split up among all winners.
For example, the WinTrillions Powerball syndicate is split 250 ways and purchases 35 tickets into every drawing. This means you have 70 chances to win every week. You can purchase just one syndicate share to split your winnings 250 ways. If that’s too much sharing for your tastes, you can purchase 2 shares to keep 1/125 of all prizes and so on.
In this example, let’s say the top jackpot is sitting at $250 million. If you purchase 1 of 250 shares and your syndicate wins the jackpot, your portion of the prize would be $1 million. If you would have purchased 2 shares, your portion of the prize would be $2 million. If you had purchased 10 shares, your portion would be $10 million. The more shares your purchase, the bigger your portion of any winnings.
Online syndicates tend to give you way more chances to win. It is not uncommon to find syndicates hosted by lottery websites that purchase 70, 100 or more entries per drawing per share. This gives you many more chances to win than the average office pool which is lucky to attract 15 participants.
Different lottery sites have many different syndicate options, so you may want to shop around to find the one that suits you best. Look for bigger syndicates to reduce your expenditures and look for smaller syndicates to increase your share of any prizes. Alternatively, you can just purchase more shares to increase your portion of any winnings.
Disadvantages of Online Syndicates
It would be unfair to discuss all the advantages of online syndicates without also discussing some of the disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage of an online syndicate is that your average cost per share is higher than it would be if you were participating in an informal syndicate with your friends or coworkers.
The reason for this is simply because lottery sites charge a premium for purchasing tickets on your behalf. It is always cheaper to buy your tickets from an authorized retailer in the real world. This is just a disadvantage for online tickets in general. Of course, the whole reason we use online services is to gain access to tickets that aren’t available in our home countries. That’s the price we pay for convenience.
Online syndicates usually split prizes more ways than informal syndicates. If you do some comparison shopping among lottery sites, you will see that syndicates can offer anywhere from 30 to 500+ shares. The more shares available, the more you need to purchase to win a sizable portion of any prizes. However, more shares equal lower costs per share. You just have to find the sweet spot between how many shares you want and how much you’re willing to pay.
Are Lottery Syndicates Worth It?
In my opinion, syndicates are extremely worth your while. It is true you have to share your prizes with other people, but even winning just a piece of a jackpot prize is enough to be a life-changing event.
Here’s something to consider: syndicates do not change your expected value. In gambling terms, expected value tells you the average gain or loss for a wager that is repeated over and over again for infinity repetitions. This is a useful thing to know because it can be used to tell us whether any wager is good or bad.
Whether you purchase one ticket and keep all prizes to yourself or join forces with 99 other people to purchase 100 tickets and split all prizes, your expected value does not change. There is no mathematical advantage in either case, assuming you have infinity years for the math to work out and provide you with an equal return over the long run.
Most people I know don’t have infinity years to play the lottery, and that’s why I believe syndicates are a good idea. The odds of winning the jackpot are so long, and the payouts are so extreme that it’s worth teaming up with other people to lower the odds and still earn a significant payout.
For most normal people who play the lottery, there really isn’t that big of a difference in the improvement of quality of life between winning $2.5 million and winning $250 million. Yes, we would all instantly choose the bigger amount if given the choice, but the fact is both would drastically change your financial situation forever.
If you’re even semi-competent in managing your money, either win will have you sitting comfortably for life. Likewise, if you’re terrible with money, neither win will be enough to save you from yourself. This is why I think syndicates are worth it even if you do have to split your prizes with other people.