Many organizations have misconduct policies highlighting that gambling is prohibited in the workplace. However, most employees view office pools and other office gambling as harmless. 

Bottom line: employers usually experience decreased productivity. 

According to the 2016 Office Betting Survey by

  • 70% of respondents participate in an office betting pool
  • 81% of respondents knew of a coworker who did
  • 79% of respondents believed it was appropriate to engage in such behavior in the workplace and during work hours.
  • 69% of respondents admitted to filling out a NCAA basketball tournament bracket
  • 60% of respondents betted on the Super Bowl.
  • 17% of respondents betted on a coworker’s pregnancy
  • 8% betted on awards shows i.e.Grammy’s & Academy Awards
  • 4% betted on contestant shows like American Idol.

Do March Madness office pools count as gambling?

Many states have laws that prohibit betting, including office pools. If office betting is illegal in your state (or you don’t want employees participating in office pools), you should clearly communicate through a formal written company policy that any kind of betting is not acceptable at work or on company time or property. Furthermore, the policy should make it clear that office betting isn’t sponsored, organized, or approved by the company. The company policy regarding gambling should define gambling, that gambling is illegal (if it is in your state) and that it can cause problems for employee performance and productivity.  

Consequences of this policy violation should be clearly explained and violations of the policy could constitute discipline and/or termination.  

Organizations should be consistent and fair in the enforcement of all policies including gambling. If employees spend hours at work watching March Madness streaming on the organizations’ computer does that also violate other policies? Obviously, spending work time on such activities may lead to performance and productivity concerns.

Employers that have gambling policies but do not enforce them leads to employee’s believing that the company condones the activity regardless of the stated policy. Be clear what the company expectations are regarding office pools and gambling and be consistent with the consequences.


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