Although lottery syndicates are meant to be a bit of fun with your colleagues, family or friends, as viewers of BBC’s The Syndicate can attest to, there’s real scope for them to go horribly wrong. From syndicate members running away with the group’s winnings, to individual members being denied what they thought was their share of a prize, misfortune has befallen many lottery syndicates throughout the years. Many of the luckless individuals involved have not just lost money as a result, but friends. Truly tragic stuff. Here some of the most memorable cases of lottery syndicates turning sour, and how these situations could have been avoided.
On the run with a monster sum of syndicate winnings
When a colleague and member of your syndicate suddenly disappears the day after a winning lotto draw, it’s bound to raise a few eyebrows. When, as a courier company employee, you’re tasked by a lottery company to send a bottle of champagne congratulating him on his lottery win, you might finally put two and two together.
This is exactly what happened in 2015, when courier driver Gary Baron went into hiding, having taken off with his work syndicate’s AUS$16.6million (£8.4m) winnings. Later insisting that he had won the money with a separate ticket, the Toll Group courier initially called in sick the day after the victory, before quitting four days later claiming he had a serious heart condition. Little did his colleagues know, he was splurging what should have been their winnings on various luxuries, including a $500,000 house and a BMW.
The deception (unsurprisingly) led to a long running feud between the courier company members and Mr. Baron, resulting in his former colleagues taking him to court. Fortunately for them, this lottery syndicate story had a fairly satisfactory ending, with Baron eventually relenting in early 2017 and agreeing to share what was left of his winnings with his former syndicate co-members.
Morning sickness costs a syndicate member £2.6m
Not all lottery syndicate disputes have such a happy ending, however. Spare a thought for poor Louisa Whitby, a pregnant recruitment firm employee from Liverpool who played the lottery in a syndicate with her ten colleagues. Although her firm beat the odds to claim a cool £28.8 million EuroMillions prize in 2013, Miss Whitby was denied her share after she left work early with morning sickness on the day the winning ticket was purchased.
Returning to a desolate office the next day, it slowly dawned on Louisa what had happened. Instead of being understanding about her situation, Miss Whitby’s heartless colleagues refused to reduce their personal wins, leaving her empty handed. The hapless recruitment worker tried to sue her workers to secure her share of the winnings, but unlike Gary Baron’s colleagues, this was to no avail. Could this be the worst case of morning sickness ever?
When just thirty minutes denies a syndicate member their share
In another unfortunate tale, Australian cable manufacturing plant worker Brendan King missed out on a share of AUS$40 million (around £23 million) lottery jackpot by just thirty minutes. King clocked out of work half an hour before his colleague Robert Adams clocked in, with Mr Adams then deciding to pool funds to enter a Powerball draw. Whilst King owned a ticket for a previous lottery draw, and was a regular syndicate contributor, Adams created a second syndicate to bolster the plant’s chances of winning the lottery. As both men’s paths never crossed at work, Adams simply did not think to include his colleague, and alas, wound up missing out when the group of 14 employees bagged the top prize.
Like Gary Baron’s colleagues and Louisa Whitby above, Brendan King sued to try and secure a share of the winnings, but was ultimately unsuccessful. King brought legal action against Robert Adams, claiming that he believed he had paid to be included in all syndicates established by Adams. However, unfortunately for Mr King, the judge ruled there were two distinct syndicates and King was not a member of the winning one.
How to avoid such sorry situations
If you’re now thinking there’s no chance of you joining a lottery syndicate, you shouldn’t be put off by these horror stories as such situations can be easily avoided. One way to do so is to sign a contract beforehand that sets out individual contributions and winning shares, so there can be no dispute about who is entitled to what. A syndicate contract can also be beneficial for tax purposes.
Another way is to instead play in online syndicates. These are much more secure than entering into a syndicate with friends and family, as you will be guaranteed the winnings of any draws you enter. All you have to do is sign up, pick the draws you want to play in and wait for the money to (hopefully) roll in. There are a number of online syndicate companies out there, and we have listed some of the most trusted below.
1.- Lotto Social – The British based online syndicate company Lotto Social are one of the most trusted around, and give members the chance to enter into either the UK National Lottery or the EuroMillions jackpots. Individuals are also put into free prize draws, giving them the opportunity to win a number of different prizes, like holidays and spa days.
2.- LottoGo – Also UK based, LottoGo members can enter into lottery draws across Europe in nations like Finland, Germany and Italy, as well as Australia.
3.- Jackpot.com – Jackpot.com are another highly trusted British online syndicate company, giving individuals the chance to enter into draws from around the world. This includes America, Austria, Canada and Ireland.