Does this lottery ticket winner stand a chance in court?

The details were argued over at work today (where we do the group lotto thing also.)

The man who bought the tickets for the group claims that he purchased the group and his own ticket with the quick pick after which he segregated his ticket from the group’s tickets. The drawing happened that very night, before he had the chance to show the group their tickets. And he won.

There are a few questions left to be answered. Did he throw in his five dollars with the group’s money and buy all the tickets at once? If so, how does he know which ticket was his? If he purchased his ticket separately, can the NJ State Lottery determine which numbers were purchased on the seperate ticket?

My contention is that, since he quick picked all the numbers, how can he then decide that his ticket was the winning one? If he purchased all the tickets on the same receipt and quick picked them all, there is no way he can say which ticket was his. And even if he purchased his ticket separately, if NJ State Lottery cannot determine which numbers were purchased on the seperate receipt, he still can’t claim his ticket won.

On the other hand, they cannot claim that theirs did, either.

One conceivable compromise would be to say there was a 50% chance that the winning ticket belonged to the individual and a 50% chance that it belonged to the group. So, maybe he should get half the money outright and the group should share the other half.

I’m going to relate a story about my grandfather. He had an acquaintance that he saw regularly during the week. One day, the guy told my grandfather that he was going to CT to buy lottery tickets, did my grandfather want him to buy some for grandfather? “Sure! here’s $5” Grandfather doesn’t see the guy again until the next week, after the drawing. “Sorry, you didn’t have a winner.” says the man.

My grandfather thought about it for a sec, smacked himself in the head, and said to himself “If one of those tix was a winner, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be ‘mine.’” He accepted his mistake and never did it again.

The group was foolish to the extreme to give money to the purchaser, and not verify the numbers before the drawing. Unless there is clear and convincing evidence (time stamps maybe?) that the ticket was part of the larger group, I think the work crew is SOL.

This is precisely the reason why, whenever I buy tickets for a group, I distribute the numbers via email before the drawing.

Zev Steinhardt

Slight Hijack

The article in the OP referred to the guy taking the cash option - what other option is there?

The only option we have here is for publicity or non-publicity.

Payouts over X numbers of years (most lotteries use anywhere from 20-26 years).

In NYS, when someone wins a grand prize for, say, $10 million, a lottery official calls up a financial company to find out what the cost of buying an annuity to pay $10 million over 26 years is. If the person takes the cash payout option, they get the cost of the annuity. If not, the state buys the annuity to pay the winner.

Zev Steinhardt

This is the best solution, of course. But if you’re running out of time, another solution is to buy the group tickets from one vendor, and the personal tickets elsewhere. Unless its the same quantity of tickets, lottery officials will be able to easily tell which is which, or a location number might even be printed on the ticket itself. This recently happened in a NJ jackpot.

I have always seen this done by distributing xerox copies of the tickets to all pool members BEFORE the drawing.

The present case is sure to be decided by the courts. I know I’d be suing with that much at stake.

IMO, the gentleman absolutely deserves to lose his case, and will lose.

It is a fundamental principle of ethics and law that you keep your personal finances separate from the finances of commercial interests. If you fail to do so, a conflict of interest is usually assumed. This fool acted unethically in not separating his personal financial interest (his ticket) from other’s interests (his co-workers) and it’s his fault, not theirs.

I (dimly) recall reading about a similar incident once before. In that case, the winner was supposed to select some specific number (let’s call it 50) of tickets for his group and also purchased a number (let’s call it ten) tickets for himself for a total of 60 tickets (remember, I’m making up the ticket counts here).

He claimed that he’d purchased the group’s tickets first and then his own in a second purchase - and one of his tickets had won. The group claimed that it was one of their tickets that had won and besides you couldn’t separate the two purchases.

Fortunately for the purchaser, this particular lottery printed serialized ticket numbers - and the winning ticket was one of the last ten of the batch. The judge ruled that the fellow’s first fifty purchases removed his obligation to the group and the last ten tickets were his alone.

(I have no idea whether these particular lottery tickets are serialized or if there’s any way to tell the order in which the tickets were purchased.)

Re the hijack, Thanks Zev.

IANAL, but I the case surely hinges on the question of whether he really did separate his ticket from the rest before the draw… having said that, isn’t the burden of proof on the prosecution (i.e. somebody must prove that he deliberately picked the winning ticket as his after the draw)?

Lotteries really do bring out the very worst in people don’t they? - if I were him, I would have shared it with the syndicate; he’d still be set up for life, but no, if I was him, I’d not have played in the first place

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

We have a roster so tht the same people don’t have to buy tickets every week. So far, we’ve received our copies of the tickets before the drawing – even if that means the person buying the tix has to slip out to the liquor store before the end of the day. When the ticket buyer is sick and unable to deliver photocopies of the tix, he or she will scan them and e-mail them to everyone. So far we haven’t had anyone type in and e-mail the numbers.

We did that in our office: Gave all the money to one person and let him buy the tickets. Twice we got some minor money.

After the guy died, the Big Boss went into the store where the tickets were bought to let the clerks know he died. The clerk “Oh, yeah. That was the guy that won $17,000!” The Big Boss immediately banned the office lottery pool.

Well, it turns out that in this particular case the question is irrelevant.

The lottery is a tax on those who can’t do math.

Here, if the prize is $10mil, you may opt for $5million up front or $10million to be paid out over 20 (I think) years.

There was a case in Ohio (I believe) where one lady collected money from her co-workers. She xeroxed the tickets and distributed the xerox copies to her co-workers prior to the drawing. She also purchased tickets for herself. She won.

2 of her co-workers sued her for “their” portion of the winnings anyway.

She was interviewed and she said that she wished she had never won the damn thing because it was causing her so much stress.

At one time I was part of an office lottery pool which bought tickets whenever the lottery prize went over $10M. There was a list of rules regarding collection of money, distribution of copies of tickets purchased by the pool (which was always done prior to the drawing) etc. Everyone taking part in the pool had to sign the rule list and had a copy of it. Among the items specifically addressed was the right of members to also purchase tickets on their own and that those tickets were not considered part of the pool. The rules also made clear that it was each member’s responsibility to make arrangements for paying into the pool when they were not at work when money was collected; if you hadn’t arranged for someone to chip in your dollar while you were on vacation, you were SOL if the pool won. Several times I would come back from vacation to find in my in box two or three photocopied sheets of losing tickets; you can be sure I made a point of reimbursing whoever had bought in for me just to be sure I wouldn’t get left out if we ever did win.