Minchella Law Blog

Lottery-Sharing Contracts and What To Do with the Millions

The powerball jackpot is all the buzz.  Besides thinking – just a little – about what I’d do with the money, I am also thinking about contracts to share in the winnings.  You see, the alumni Facebook page for my college (Go Bonas!) has a feed where alumni purchase a ticket from their state and post it to the page, and agree to share the winnings.  One alumnus posted the terms of the “sharing” agreement:

We share equally (for Jackpot (5+PB) and/or 5 matching ($1M))

Everyone that posts a ticket before drawing tonight. Owner of ticket keeps smaller prizes.

Cash, not annuity

10% of net is donated to SBU

We buy the BurtonHickey and the Other Place and drinks are free in perpetuity for SBU students and alumni.

I get to wondering if I should join in, in fact, truth be told I said I would but the lawyer in me changed my mind.  Because with people from different states and different laws, I just see a host of problems.  If two sisters can fight over lottery winnings, surely a bunch of alumni can.  Years ago, two Connecticut sisters had agreed to share future gambling winnings.  They reduced it to writing and had it notarized. It read: “This is a letter of agreement between [the defendant] and [the plaintiff]. This letter is dated on 4/12/95. This letter states that we are partners in any winning we shall receive, to be shared [equally]. (Such as slot machines, cards, at Foxwoods Casino, and [lottery] tickets, etc.).”  When one sister won the $500,000 powerball she shared the money with their brother and not her sister.  Ouch.  And, you guessed it, the other sister sued for breach of the agreement. Connecticut, however, has a wagering law that renders void any contracts on gambling.  The sister who won the money convinced the trial court that the contract with her sister was illegal under the law.  Both of our appellate courts disagreed and said the contract was enforceable. Not surprising since, if you know Connecticut, you know Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, we love gamblers.  Since the lottery was legal gambling, the sisters had a valid contract.

I hope my Bona’s friends win.  And I hope none of the state’s involved have laws that might make it messy when they do.

Note:  The Burton, The Other Place and the Hickey are the local watering holes. I won’t write about my escapades in those places.

Anthony R. Minchella

Anthony R. Minchella

Tony represents Fortune 50 financial services companies, retail giants, and small and large specialty products companies in employment litigation, trade secret and non-competition litigation, and unfair trade practice issues. When acting as local counsel, Tony, an adjunct professor of law on Connecticut Civil Procedure at Quinnipiac Law School, helps lead counsel navigate the nuances of Connecticut state and federal court practice. Tony graduated magna cum laude from Quinnipiac University School of Law. He passed the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut bar exams and then moved on to careers with large and small firms which led to his boutique litigation practice.
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