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MEGA MILLIONS | Are lottery pools legal?

8:11 AM, Mar 30, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA (WXIA) -- With Mega Millions at a record $540 million, many people are setting up pools, hoping to increase their chances of winning. But are the pools legal?

"In the state of Georgia the law allows people to get together and form a group to buy lottery tickets in the Georgia Lottery because it's educational. It would be illegal for people to get together and form a group and enter into some type of basketball pool or some other type of gambling that would be an illegal bet," said Atlanta attorney Tom Salata.

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So if it's legal to get that group together to buy a Georgia Lottery ticket, what happens to groups that win?

In groups of up to 20 people, the Georgia Lottery will pay each winner individually. In larger groups, a legal entity like a partnership will have to be formed. The group gets one check and splits up the cash.

In addition, taxes have to be paid on the winnings.

For winnings of $5,000 or greater, the Georgia Lottery withholds 6 percent to pay state income taxes and another 25 percent to handle federal taxes. In addition, money owed for child support or outstanding student loans are also withheld.

Big winners are advised to hire a financial advisor and an attorney to help manage the money.

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