How To Form & Run
a Lottery Syndicate
Table Of Contents:
You can form a lottery syndicate for fun, profit - or both. But if you want to know how to set up your syndicate, and run it smoothly, dig in to our experts guide below.
(If you're still unsure as to why a syndicate is a good idea, please read winning the lottery...)
It doesn't matter if you are running a syndicate just for fun or for profit. If it's for half a dozen office workmates or hundreds of people all over the world. If you don't get the basics right it will be hard work, and you can end up in a whole heap of a mess!
(NOTE: In some countries you are not allowed to profit from running a lottery syndicate, so if profit is on your mind, check first. It's fairly rare but does seem to apply to Canada and the USA)
Forming Your Syndicate
OK, so how do get started?
Well clearly you're going to need some other players. A 'syndicate of one' doesn't make a lot of sense.
But before you rush out to sign everyone up, you need to sort out a few basics.
Your first decisions are:-
- What game are you going to play?
- How often will you play (every draw, once a week)?
- How many members do you want? (how many is 'full', and what's your minimum to start playing)
- Will everyone fund 1 ticket each, or pay in a fixed amount?
Answering these questions will help shape your syndicate properly.
And a 'ready to go' plan is much more appealing to potential members than a vague "wanna do a syndicate..?"
Balance Is Important
When you form a syndicate you also need to think carefully about balance.
Every pool is a balance of the number of tickets bought (cost) versus how hard a game is to win (the odds).
But it's also a balance of the number of players in each group versus the size of the jackpot (you can have more than one group).
To see if you're getting the balance right, answer these two questions:-
- If you divide the jackpot by the number of players, is each players share big enough?
- Figure out your chances of winning based on the number of tickets you're going to buy (simply divide - if the odds were 1-in-13 million, and you buy 100 tickets, the odds are now 1-in-130,000). Now, are the odds good enough?
There are no fixed right or wrong answers to these. Because that depends on what you want from your syndicate. You just need to have given it some thought.
How To Register a Lottery Syndicate..?
Do you have to register a syndicate? Actually, no. You don't need to register in any country we're aware of.
There is no formal registry, or registration process. I've not yet come across a country that requires syndicates to register with the lottery company or any other formal body.
(NOTE: I can't know the rules for every country though, so if you are at all unsure then all you need to do is contact the official lottery company for your region and ask them. They are there to help players, so they won't mind you asking.)
So if you want to form a syndicate, just go for it!
Now that's NOT to say you don't need to do anything formal. You do. But we'll get to that in a moment.
Set Up Your Syndicate
OK, so next thing is you need to know how to set up a lottery syndicate.
There's no single right way. But you do need some kind of system to manage your group properly. Something that can cope at the very least with:-
- tracking who your members are
- who has paid, and until when
- what numbers you are playing
- your winnings
There's a lot more you might want to track too, this is just a minimum. You might want to log things like staff holidays for example (if this is an office pool) - so you know to get money before people disappear for 4 weeks on a round the world trip!
One of the simplest methods is to set up a basic spreadsheet in Excel/OpenOffice. Just list names down the first column, and draw dates across the first row. Use a formula to add 'x' days to the draw date if, like me, you're too lazy to keep looking up the dates.
Once you've set up your syndicate this way you can put an 'X' or a '1' in the cells for the relevant name and draw dates when people pay you. If they pay for 5 draws, you tick off 5 draws. Simple.
This kind of simple lottery spreadsheet is a quick, easy, visual way to log who has paid and see who hasn't. You can either hide or just delete columns for old draws to keep it manageable.
It's also very easy to delete a row for a member who leaves, or add a new row should someone join.
For winnings you can log the date and amounts in a 'winnings' sheet/tab within the same spreadsheet file. You may find it useful to log active members in the syndicate at that date against every win - although I've found it can be better to log start and leaving dates of all members in another sheet.
Why log members and winnings? - because you're going to win some small amounts that are just too fiddly to bother splitting and distributing until they accumulate to something bigger. And if someone leaves, you need to know how much they are due, and what remains for everyone else.
You could use members joining or leaving as a trigger to calculate everyones balance, so the 'winnings pot' goes back to zero.
This spreadsheet based approach is fine for a fairly small lottery syndicate, but believe me it gets very painful very quickly if numbers grow!
If you're pretty handy with Excel/OpenOffice, you can develop your spreadsheet and set up formulas to calculate winning shares, leavers shares, remainders etc.
Alternatively, if you don't find this fun or the number of members is making it painful, trial out some of the lottery software available for syndicate management.
Reaching An Agreement
Do you have a lottery syndicate agreement in place? If not, do it!
This is the one formal part of running a syndicate that really deserves more attention than it tends to get.
The terms should be simple to understand and very clear to all members. You can run into legal problems, tax problems and plain old disputes of who is due what if you neglect an agreement.
If the big win happens, you don't want to give a large chunk of it to a lawyer because Bob says he is still a member when everyone else says he hasn't paid for 6 weeks so wasn't included...
This happens, don't let it happen to you.
You should set out at least what game you are playing, the frequency, what happens with winnings - small and large, who is responsible for checking results and claiming winnings, what happens if a member has not paid - are their numbers entered, do they receive a share etc.
Ideally you shouldn't have any non-payers because members should come to you to pay. But you know you're going to be involved in chasing people up sometimes.
You may want to specify from the start that everyone pays a month in advance for example to minimise your leg work. If it's an office lottery syndicate you might want to time things around pay day!
Everybody knows what the lottery is, and most people have played it at some point.
You'll also find that nearly everybody understands what a syndicate is and how it works. Just some will be more used to calling it a lottery club or pool.
So it's really just a case of letting potential members know what your group is offering.
For a small office pool this should be very easy indeed. Word of mouth, an email to the department, or a simple flyer on the notice board should be enough.
But give it a name. Partly because it will help people feel part of something, and partly because you may not be the only one in the building and it will help avoid confusion.
So be it Bob's EuroMillions Lottery Club, or something more tongue-in-cheek like Deb's Jackpot Retirement Plan - give it a name.
Don't Upset The Management!
Talk to your boss first. Some stuffier companies do not like to be seen to support 'gambling' on their premises. It may help to reassure them that it's only a small amount per person, and you don't profit in any way.
You also want to avoid any later accusations of abusing company resources (time, printer/photocopier, email) to run the group. So have the friendly chat... and recruit your boss into the pool :-)
If you have higher aspirations, and want to run larger syndicate groups, then to start with you need to work out who your target market are.
Is it a local community, a US State, an entire country or just the World?
Whatever the size, the internet should feature strongly in your plan as it not only gives you a great way to market your service, via a web site, but also a superb way to stay in contact with your members using the site itself and/or email.
The easiest and cheapest way to get your syndicate site started is to use something like a free Wordpress blog. The free version is a bit limited in what you can do and you don't really own the site, but you may find it enough.
A big step up but now surpisingly cheap is to get some web hosting (easier than it sounds!). You can then create a more powerful Wordpress site that you properly own with just a few mouse clicks.
There are a baffling number of companies out there that offer this kind of thing, but I've found Bluehost to be reliable and crazy cheap (just $6.95pm which even includes a domain name!). You also get a thing called 'Simple Scripts' included which lets you install all sorts of fancy stuff like email mailing list software, a blog or a Forum, all with just a couple of clicks (so easy, I can do it!).
Are you going to allow your members to pick numbers randomly? Or are you going to apply a bit more science to your syndicate?
Members do like being able to pick their own numbers as it makes them feel more involved.
But then again, if you know about the way most people pick numbers, you may wish to do it yourself to maximise winnings. People have a habit of picking numbers that are popular or follow patterns - making it more likely you may have to share a jackpot.
It's a careful balance of 'proving' to the uninitiated that you know what you are doing, and avoiding offending anyone. Whilst still delivering what is best for them!
Add a Syndicate to Your Lottery Syndicate!
One great way to add a chunk of extra fun to your group is to use part of your stake money to pay for membership of another lottery syndicate!
I know that sounds like a strange suggestion. But here's why:-
- This can greatly increase your groups chances of winning something every week, and/or
- It also makes it possible to play a lot more games
And both of those things make it a lot more excitingfor everyone involved. Which keeps people interested, and reduces drop outs.
It would mean a 'share of a share' of the winnings, so this is not about the big jackpot win that has everyone quitting their jobs. That's your regular tickets - this is about a steady trickle of winning something.
Love My Lotto is a top choice for adding lots of big jackpot games at low cost.
And if there are other syndicates around locally or at work, your groups could take a share in each others pools! This could be as a regular 'member' funding extra tickets, or even just swapping a share of the winnings.
What To Do With Small Wins
Most people aren't interested in having the small wins returned to them as they happen. They are just too small to bother with.
But do tell your members about every win - a quick email is great - as it helps to keep them interested.
You can accumulate small wins for a larger payback to the members when you hit a certain amount.
Or to inject a little more fun, you could arrange an evening out on the winnings. Or perhaps buy a couple of scratchcards for every member (sharing the prizes of course!). Or build up a bank to play extra tickets when the jackpot has rolled over.
Whatever you think will hit a note with your members.
Keeping Things Going
Running a syndicate is hard work. Your members won't think so though, so don't expect an awful lot of thanks :-).
To ease some of the burden, you might like to train up a Deputy (yes, they can have a badge...).
Your Deputy Syndicate Manager can step in to provide cover for emergencies, sickness or holidays. But they can also just take over and run the group once in a while to give you a break.
When you run a syndicate of your own also need to know how to keep members interested.
Keeping your members motivated may not sound necessary, but it will help to stop people dropping out. And that can be a real nuisance for anyone managing a group. It will also limit any "why haven't we won yet" moaning too!
Make sure people know what the big plan is and what to expect. Don't depress them, but don't let them think you're going to be winning big every week either!
And do tell your members when you win anything - even the smallest wins. They do like to know, even if you have to smile along (again) with lots of "is that all..." or "I won't retire just yet then..." comments :-).
You can also send out updates to say how much the jackpot is this week, or when you're playing extra tickets with those built up small wins.
If you see a story in the news about a syndicate winning big, send that out too. Remind your members that it does happen, that next week it could be us... and that they have 5 minutes left to pay this weeks money.
When Someone Leaves The Syndicate
You should have a procedure for when someone leaves. Because it will happen.
People change their mind, get bored, leave the company or leave the country.
For whatever reason, don't take it personally. Just set up a simple process to handle it, such as this for example:-
- Discuss with them when the last draw is they will play
- Figure out if they need to pay any more to that date, or if they need a refund
- Right after that draw, work out their share of the winnings
- Confirm the above to them in writing, stating dates and amounts
- Copy in the other members if you wish
- Update and reissue your agreement as necessary
If you want to be really cautious you can get people to sign a copy of their confirmation of leaving document too.
You may also need or want to find replacement members at this point. But get your leavers and existing members to help you out with that. Ask them if they know anyone else who might like to join.
Don't Forget The Fun
Playing the lottery is supposed to be fun. It's entertainment - and pretty good value to boot.
And when you form your own lottery syndicate, that should be fun too.
So do remember to enjoy playing!
If you have other ideas or suggestions for this page, please get in touch, I'd love to share your ideas and tips with everyone.