"I'm thinking of starting an office lottery pool, but I don't want to get into any trouble. Are lottery pools legal for me and my coworkers to join?"
Laws Prohibiting Lottery Pools
Whether lottery pools are legal or not depends on where you are located. A lottery pool is a form of gambling. In the United States, there are no federal laws prohibiting gambling, but individual states can, and do, prohibit it. If gambling is prohibited in your state, lottery pools are as well.
If you're wondering whether playing the lottery is legal in your state, a good place to start is to ask whether your state runs a state lottery. If your state has no lottery, it's a good sign that gambling could be illegal. See Lottery Games by State to see which states offer lotteries.
You can also search for your state's gambling laws. Findlaw.com has a list of gambling and lottery laws by state which could help.
Does Your Workplace Prohibit Lottery Pools?Aside from laws prohibiting gambling, you also want to be sure that your workplace does not prohibit lottery pools during work hours. In some companies, gambling on the job is a firing offense.
Before you start an office lottery pool, check your business' code of conduct or employee handbook to see if there's a no-gambling policy. If you're still not sure, check with your company's human resources department.
If you are a government employee or a civilian working on a government facility, you face additional restrictions. Lottery pools that take place "on Government-owned or leased property or on duty for the Government" are prohibited (see Cornell Law School for more information).
Summary:Before you get started, check both with local laws and with your company's human resources department (if you're starting an office lottery pool) to ensure you are not breaking any laws or guidelines that could turn a fun lottery pool into a serious problem. If you decide to go ahead with your pool, see Avoiding Lottery Pool Problems for tips on how to protect yourself and your coworkers. Good luck!
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, and this is not intended to be legal advice. For professional advice, please contact an experienced lawyer.