Dreams of riches

Workers banding together to try to share in $740m bonanza

It's the second-largest world jackpot of all time - US$600 million ($744 million). And in workplaces across the United States, people are inviting colleagues to chip in US$2 for a lottery ticket and a shared dream.

The office lottery pool is a way to improve your odds and have a little fun with co-workers. And who wants to be the only person at work the next day when everyone quits?

With the largest Powerball jackpot on the line, this is the time to play. And the payout could get even bigger beforetoday's drawing.

The chances of winning this latest jackpot are about 1 in 175.2 million.

The Multi-State Lottery Association recognises the popularity of office pools, especially when the stakes are so high.

"The appeal is they can stretch the value of their $2," said Norm Lingle, chairman of the Powerball Executive Committee.

But it's important to be careful. Workplace pools that yield big jackpots sometimes result in lawsuits, broken friendships and delayed payouts. Lottery officials encourage pool organisers to lay down rules and put them in writing before the winning numbers are drawn. Linda Golden has organised a pool for years and requires everyone to sign in, showing they contributed.

She had 14 co-workers on board when the jackpot pushed past $200 million in late March.

They only won US$4 but, instead of distributing that amount, Golden bought more tickets for the US$1 million Powerball drawing on March 27 without telling the others.

She hit the jackpot and never gave a thought to keeping the winnings all for herself. After taxes, each person ended up with about US$50,000.

Golden estimated she had 26 people in her pool this time.

"It's kind of getting out of hand," she said.

In another case, an Ohio man who missed his weekly lottery pool because of an injury later sued his co-workers for a chance to share their winning US$99 million jackpot.

"People don't realise that this is serious business," said lawyer Rubin Sinins.

He represented five construction workers who claimed a colleague cheated them out of a share of a multimillion-dollar jackpot.

- AP

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