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THE OFFICE FOOTBALL POOL - IS THIS LEGAL?

It’s THE BIG GAME TIME! Is your company one of an estimated 1/3 of all American companies that celebrates the biggest game of the season with an office pool? Love it or hate it, indeed is it a sacred tradition at your company you don’t dare tamper with? Yet, while you watch staff studying the match-ups and making picks, are you saying to yourself: "This can’t be legal."? In short: No, it isn’t. Betting sports is legal only in Nevada. So now what? Well, in reality, the likelihood of facing prosecution for participating in an office betting pool as an employee or employer is virtually nonexistent. Employers, however, do face a higher risk than employees. While the risk of prosecution is low, company owners should be aware that gambling can present legal liabilities. So, knowing all of this, do you really have to be the company party pooper? We’ll leave that up to your management and their legal advisors. But let’s look at the other side of the coin for a minute. As we know, office pools are widely practiced and generally accepted. They usually carry low bet amounts (the lower the better from a legal liability standpoint), and can go a long way toward energizing staff and creating camaraderie among employees. Even non-sports fans are easily swept up in the enthusiasm. Following a team, trash-talking with co-workers, and putting a little money down add to the fun and can help foster a sense of community among employees. OK so let’s say you decide (or your boss decides) to go ahead and allow the office pool, here are some ways you can help minimize liability risk:

  • Keep the stakes low and separate gambling and work.
  • Avoid online brackets. Keep your pool on paper.
  • Prevent disruption at work by prohibiting game-watching over the Internet.
  • Encourage pool participation only during breaks and lunch.

If you can keep it fun, you may be able to build camaraderie without the added risks:

  • Rather than using the typical buy-in bracket model, allow everyone to participate for free and simply provide prizes for the winners.
  • Host a lunch and organize an indoor office football game played using bean bags and include other football theme games. Click for instructions and additional workplace appropriate games. Give prizes for winners.
  • Organize after-work parties to watch football games together.

Whatever you do, have FUN with it. Avoid a penalty call on your internal planning! Let us take it into the end zone by providing all your event needs for perfect game day festivities!