If you’re a fan of lotteries, especially playing lotteries online, then you’ve likely come across the term “lottery syndicates” at some point. That's because lotto syndicates are widely considered to be the #1 way to increase your chances of winning a jackpot. In this article, we’ll explain what syndicates are, what types exist, what we believe are the best ones, and what we look for—and you should too—when considering the many options available nowadays online.
What Is a Lottery Syndicate?
Lottery syndicates are a fancy term for lottery pools (also called group play), meaning a group of people who pool their money together to buy multiple tickets for a particular lottery draw. Everyone knows that the more entries you buy into a draw, the better your odds of winning, but syndicates take this idea to much greater heights. For example, if 50 people each buy a single ticket to an upcoming draw, then the group’s collective chances of winning are 50 times better than what any individual player would have had. According to statistics released by the UK National Lottery organization, about 20% of all major lotteries’ jackpots are won by syndicates—and that alone speaks volumes about their efficacy.
Types of Syndicates
There are a few types of lottery syndicates, with some being informal and others formal, and each has its own pros and cons. Here are the main ones:
These types of syndicates are generally somewhat informal agreements between family members, friends, or co-workers (in the UK, approximately 68% of all syndicates fall into the latter category). More commonly known as lottery pools, they usually involve several people putting their money together to buy a bunch of lottery tickets and therefore considerably boosting their chances of winning. Usually, everyone would put in the same amount of money, so if anyone’s numbers ended up winning a prize, that prize would be split evenly among all the people that comprise the pool.
Online syndicates, on the other hand, are offered by many of the top online lottery sites, which take care of all the formalities and have specific terms that those who purchase a share in the syndicate must follow. The ticket agents of such sites are also the ones who go out and buy the actual tickets on behalf of all the members, plus they will claim any prizes and pay them out to everyone. Most sites will only charge a small upfront fee for this service and won’t take a commission, but it’s important to read the fine print (more on this below) just to be extra safe.
Players can generally purchase just one share or as many as they want. A syndicate might purchase 50 individual tickets (also called lottery lines and blocks, each comprising one set of numbers) for a single drawing that is split between 100 equal parts known as shares, and the more shares that a player purchases, the more of the prize he will receive. For example, if a person purchases 1 share, he’s entitled to 1/100 (1%) of the prize, but if he purchases 10 shares, he’s entitled to 10/100 (10%) of the prize.
Most syndicates operate on a subscription basis, meaning you’ll be playing multiple consecutive draws. Each lottery is different, but if the game has two weekly draws, then a week-long subscription would be for two draws, while a month-long subscription would be for eight, etc. Some websites even have longer subscriptions such as six-month ones, meaning you stand a seriously good chance of winning something—at the very least your money back—through all those shares between all those draws.
It’s also worth noting that while some websites purchase physical tickets to official lotteries on behalf of their customers, others only enable players to place bets on the outcomes of official lotteries—the same way that someone would place bets on a horse race or boxing match. However, they pay out the same prizes as the official lotteries would because they take out expensive insurance policies to make sure they can cover the biggest prizes. Although these types of sites operate completely independently of official lotteries, that doesn’t automatically mean that they’re unscrupulous; in fact, some of the biggest lottery sites in the world are betting sites or a hybrid of a betting site and an online lottery agent (who actually buys physical tickets). Like all other gambling sites, these types of sites must have gambling licenses in order to operate, and the regulations they must follow as a result are generally very stringent.
Advantages of Syndicates
There are several reasons why joining a lottery syndicate is an excellent idea:
Maximize Your Chances of Winnings
As mentioned earlier, the primary reason anyone would play in a syndicate is to increase their chances of winning. Let’s say there’s a massive US Powerball jackpot coming up that you’d like to try your luck on. As attractive as that jackpot might be, Powerball is infamous for having some of the toughest odds of any lottery in the world (1 in 292,201,338 to be exact), so it really requires the equivalent of a miracle for one person to win it, even if they buy multiple tickets. An office lottery pool might have a dozen or so members, which certainly helps, but it still might not be enough. However, if an online lotto syndicate purchases 100 tickets, then the odds suddenly drop down to 1 in 2,922,201, which aren’t that bad at all. And for smaller lotteries, the odds would be even better. Also, it doesn’t matter whose ticket actually wins, because if one person wins, everyone wins!
Eliminate the Hassle
Most independently organized lottery pools are casual in nature—in fact, most are just verbal agreements—and this can ultimately result in immense tension between people after a win due to unclear terms, participation, and prize divisions or even downright ticket theft. Besides that, lottery pools can be a huge hassle to organize and manage, as someone needs to collect everyone’s payments and numbers, buy the tickets, scan copies for everyone (if they’re even that organized), etc. Luckily, online lottery syndicates take care of all this for you, so all you need to worry about is choosing the lottery, numbers, and number of draws that you want to play, and they’ll take care of the rest. The fact that they’ll have comprehensive records of exactly who paid what and how many shares each person is entitled to truly provides a huge relief and is a testament to the safety and security they provide. Moreover, there’s never a shortage of people willing to play the syndicates offered by the top lottery sites, while in real life it could be a challenge to find a group of trustworthy people who you’d like to play with.
Never Miss a Payment
One of the most contested things about informal lottery pools is who had actually bought shares for a particular draw, as some people want to play certain draws but not others. Sometimes this is intentional and other times people simply forget, but this can quickly transform into a legal nightmare when there’s a winning ticket involved. Since most syndicates are offered on a subscription basis, you’ll never need to worry about missing a payment because you’ll decide upfront exactly how many draws you want a share in.
Cheaper Than Playing Solo
A syndicate might buy 50 tickets to an upcoming draw and divide those tickets into 100 shares. If a line costs $3, then 50 lines would cost $150, meaning one share would be worth $1.50 (plus whatever the site adds on). Therefore, a single share could actually cost you less than an individual ticket would.
Play the Best Lottery Games in the World
Normally, both individual players and traditional lottery pools are limited to playing the lottery games that are available to them locally, regionally, or nationally. In other words, if you live in Canada and want to get in on the action of a record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot, you’re pretty much out of luck unless you or someone trustworthy you know happens to live close to the border and is willing to cross it to buy the tickets. However, thanks to lottery sites and syndicates, you can play the best online lottery games that any country has to offer from anywhere in the world. This suddenly opens up an incredible number of game options to you—many that you may have never even heard of—so you can pick and choose only the games and syndicates that appeal to you most. This alone is an absolute game-changer if you’ve never ventured into the online lottery scene.
Some lottery sites even offer combo syndicates, meaning you buy shares to multiple lottery games. For example, purchasing shares in an American combo syndicate could give you access to the upcoming US Powerball, Mega Millions, and New York Lotto draws all for one price and exponentially increase your chances of winning in the process.
Winnings Are Paid Automatically
All reputable lottery sites will collect winnings on behalf of a syndicate, divide the money according to the number of shares that was originally outlined, and pay them out accordingly. Smaller winnings will appear in your account automatically, while for bigger wins the lottery site will mediate between all the syndicate shareholders until everyone receives what they’re owed. Since all members of the syndicate will have copies of the tickets in their online user accounts, as well as receipts and clear documentation, it would be impossible for someone to run off with all of the money. Besides, these are multi-million-dollar companies who have built their reputations on helping people win the lottery, so the last thing they’d want to do is rip one of their customers off. Therefore, you can sit back, relax, and just wait for the good news that will hopefully be coming to you—and the rest of your syndicate—soon.
Disadvantages of Syndicates
Despite all their great advantages, syndicates do have the following downsides:
All Winnings Are Shared
Even though a syndicate can greatly increase your chances of winning a great prize, this comes at a price: you must also split the money with all of the other people who make up the syndicate. If there are only 50 shares or so and you’ve bought five of them, then you own 10% of all of the shares, which could still add up to a substantial amount of money if what’s at stake is a huge jackpot worth $1 billion. After all, your share would still be $100 million, which is nothing to scoff at. Also, if you want to take home more of the winnings the syndicate will potentially win, you can just buy more shares. However, if the jackpot isn’t worth that much and/or there are many more total shares and you personally own a very small portion of them, then you’ll likewise get a very small piece of the pie when it’s payout time. That being said, what’s better—the prospect of going home with a smaller prize or nothing at all?
More Expensive Than Casual Lottery Pools
If you’re playing whatever lottery is locally available to you with friends, family members, or work colleagues, you’ll never need to pay more than the lottery’s official price for an entry into a draw. That’s because you’ll be buying your tickets directly from a local lottery retailer, who never adds on any fees or anything like that. However, the lottery syndicates offered by online lottery sites are third-party concierge services that are not directly affiliated with any official lotteries. As a result, they make their money by charging a small fee on top of the tickets that they purchase on behalf of their customers. If you play the lottery a lot, these fees will definitely add up over time, but hopefully the syndicates you’ll be playing through will at the very least win some decent secondary prizes that will offset if not entirely cover these extra costs. In addition, you’ll be able to play great lotteries you’d never be able to play otherwise, which is an incredible convenience.
Automatic Renewals Are Often the Norm
As mentioned earlier, many online lottery syndicates are subscriptions for multiple upcoming draws—anywhere from a couple to dozens. However, this isn’t always obvious when signing up for one, as it can be hidden in the fine print of a webpage or website. Therefore, make sure you clearly understand how many draws you’re signing up for to avoid frustration later on.
Might Not Have a Say in What Numbers Are Played
Depending on the lottery site and even the specific type of syndicate, you might be able to choose your own lucky numbers, but it’s more likely that you will be limited to choosing preselected sets of numbers or even having no say in the matter at all in cases when a website automatically chooses the numbers. This might be a tough thing for people who play a regular combination of numbers to accept, but no one will stop you from purchasing a single-entry ticket to the same draw if that would put you at ease—and doing so would also further boost your chances of winning.
What to Look for in a Syndicate
If you’ve read everything above and think you’d like to try playing through an online syndicate, make sure to consider the following:
Site Reputation, Security, and Features
Just like with any business or service, there are good, reputable lottery websites and there are bad ones that are anything but. Therefore, it’s worthwhile reading lottery website reviews and especially lottery syndicate reviews to weed out the quality ones from the ones you’d be better off avoiding. Quality websites and syndicates will have things like industry-approved security certificates, watertight terms and conditions, encrypted transactions and communications, guaranteed payouts, and great customer service. They will also accept a wide range of payment methods, including credit cards and e-wallets. In the case of lottery betting sites, they must have valid gambling licenses, so if you ever come across one that isn’t licensed, stay clear of it at all costs; lottery ticketing services, however, don’t need gambling licenses, as they are merely providing a concierge service and thus operate very differently.
Lottery Games and Jackpot Sizes
Once you’ve found a few solid and reputable sites to play through, take a close look at the lottery games they offer via their syndicates and decide if those are the games that you actually want to play. If you’re not familiar with many international lottery games, check out our guide to the best lotteries to play, as there are various factors to consider, including the sizes of jackpots and secondary prizes, odds, number of prize tiers, number of draws per week, etc. Generally speaking, it’s best to find lotteries with big jackpots and low odds, but it can be hard to find the right balance.
As for syndicates, some only offer shares for one particular lottery, others offer shares for all of the games available in a particular region or country, and still others focus on the biggest lottery games in the world and even offer combo syndicates that give you a chance at playing them all for one entry price.
Number of Tickets/Lines/Blocks
The number of lines that are purchased for a given draw are ultimately what define the syndicate's chances of winning a prize. If the odds of winning a jackpot prize with a single ticket are 1 in 1 million, then 50 combined tickets would bring those odds down to 1 in 20,000—which is pretty great. The number of tickets and the number of shares (discussed below) that a syndicate offers are two very important factors that you need to consider.
Number of Total Shares
If you’re playing a game with relatively small jackpots, keep in mind that you’ll need to share that prize with everyone else in the syndicate if it ends up winning—so make sure it will still be worth your while or if you’ll be left with peanuts come payout day. Therefore, it’s important to take note of how many total shares are in the syndicate you’re considering playing through. The more shares there are, the more people the prize will have to be split between. If there are 500 shares of a fairly small jackpot and you only own one or a few of those shares, whatever you personally win likely won’t be life-changing, so it's wise to stock up on them. A good rule of thumb is to seek out syndicates with fewer shares for smaller jackpots and syndicates with more shares for massive jackpots (which will have much tougher odds).
The Fine Print
Reading the fine print before you pay for anything is always a good idea, and lottery syndicates are certainly no exception. As we discussed above, most are based on a subscription model that will automatically sign you up for upcoming draws (with recurring payments) after the first draw, which might even be offered for free. Therefore, knowing this—and especially how to cancel the subscription—in advance can save you a lot of rage later. While sneakily signing people up for things they might not be aware of and charging them for it seems pretty dubious, it’s unfortunately become a standard part of not just the lottery industry but also many businesses in other industries—including Amazon Prime and Audible, Netflix, and Spotify—whether we like it or not. As long as you’re aware of it, you shouldn’t have any serious issues dealing with it.
It’s also worth checking to see if the website takes any commission on wins. Since most don’t, you should probably avoid the sites that do, but again this is something that’s better to know upfront before paying (and possibly winning something big).
Bottom Line: Are Lottery Syndicates Worth It?
Considering the odds are stacked against you with most lotteries—you are 30 times more likely to get hit by lightning than winning a Mega Millions jackpot, for example—lottery syndicates are absolutely worthwhile to learn about and play through. There are all sorts of websites and books out there discussing mathematics, probabilities of hot and cold numbers, and “sure-win” strategies, but the reality is that many of them are a bunch of BS to fool gullible people into buying products or visiting websites. In the end, every lottery draw is absolutely a game of chance, and there is no way whatsoever to know what the winning numbers will be.
As a result, the proven best way to win is to buy as many tickets as one can comfortably afford, and since that can get very expensive very quickly, lottery syndicates offer the best compromise between keeping prices reasonable and (heavily) tilting the odds in your favour. While sharing a prize with other people, especially a bunch of strangers, might seem annoying, believe us when we say that it’s infinitely better to get 5% (or even 0.5%) of a really big prize than 0% of nothing. While a big lottery syndicate makes it impossible for you to win and keep a $1 billion payout to yourself, most people would agree that taking home $5 to $20 million would still be absolutely amazing.
On that note, we sincerely wish you the best of luck as you venture forward—even though with syndicates you won’t need nearly as much of it as you would playing solo!
FAQ - frequently asked questions
- A lottery syndicate is a group of people who have decided to pool their resources together in order to increase their chances of winning lottery prizes. Lottery syndicates are also commonly called “lottery pools” and “group play”.
- Buying more lottery tickets naturally increases your chances of winning a prize, so playing in a syndicate does this on an even bigger scale since there is strength in numbers. If you were to buy 10 tickets to an upcoming draw, your chances of winning would be 10X that of a single ticket, right? Now imagine if 10 people each bought 10 tickets—now your chances are 100X better! Because of this, syndicates are widely considered the best strategy for winning the lottery.
- A syndicate entry, also known as a line, ticket, and block, is simply one set/combination of numbers for a particular draw. Since each line represents a single chance to win a jackpot, a 50-line syndicate would give the entire syndicate 50 unique chances to win.
- A syndicate share is one part of whatever total number of parts the syndicate and its entries have been split into. It’s important to understand that shares and entries are two very different yet related things, as a syndicate could have 50 individual lines purchased for an upcoming draw, but all the lines could be split into more than or fewer than 50 shares. As a result, one share is the smallest division of a syndicate, and the more shares that one person purchases, the more of the winnings he or she will get to keep because he or she will ultimately own a bigger percentage of the total number of shares.
- Yes, many syndicates and lottery pools have won the lottery over the years. In fact, 20% to 30% of the jackpots won around the world are the result of a group effort and the advantage that buying tickets in numbers provides. In August 2018, an office lottery pool comprising 11 co-workers in California won a massive $543 Mega Millions jackpot, which came out to $49.4 million per person before taxes.
- If you’re playing the lottery with friends, coworkers, or family members, then you technically don’t “need” a contract, but it’s an extremely good idea to have one. There are many cases of relationships being destroyed due to people fighting over the money after winning a big prize because the terms and ownership details of the lottery pool weren’t officially written down anywhere. While a contract is the safest way to avoid such problems, having clear documentation via emails or other forms of writing can also help immensely in case there are any doubts (or litigation) later on. With online lottery syndicates, this can all be avoided because the website will have watertight terms and conditions for how their syndicates function and it’s very easy to prove who did or did not play via a syndicate for any given draw.
- Yes, they definitely work—in fact, 20% to 30% of all big jackpots are won by either organized lottery syndicates or casual lottery pools. While people employ various strategies such as hot/cold numbers, statistics, and mathematics to help them defeat what are often incredibly tough lottery odds, the simplest and most effective way to do so is to stock up on tickets, and that’s exactly what syndicates allow people to do—without breaking the bank in the process.
- Yes, lottery syndicates are 100% legal, as there is nothing shady whatsoever about people pooling their money together to boost their chances of winning. After all, the practice has been around since lotteries first appeared. If you’re playing through an online syndicate, just make sure you’re playing through a reputable lottery site to avoid any complications down the road.
- In the real world, lottery syndicates are only as safe as the relationships and integrity of the people who are part of them. Online syndicates, however, are much safer since people don’t have to worry about a friend or co-worker running off with the winnings. Any quality lottery website will take a lot of pride in the products and service they provide, so you can definitely put your trust in the syndicates that they operate as well.
- This depends on various factors, including the lottery game that’s being played (especially in terms of the jackpot sizes and odds of winning its various prizes), the number of entries that the syndicate will purchase for an upcoming draw, the number of total shares that are available for that draw, and the cost of a single share. As a result, this is a somewhat subjective matter because some people prefer to play smaller lotteries that have better odds with only a few other people, while others prefer to buy as many tickets for a big lottery as they can. That being said, reading our syndicate reviews should quickly help you find one that will work for you.