With the NFL’s conference championship games this weekend, many Americans will be laying small bets between friends, family, and co-workers. While certain sporting events are ingrained into the very fabric of national culture, the unofficial betting around these events is mostly illegal.
One common phenomenon is the office betting pool or bracket- often a lighthearted and social activity- however it is important to consider the legal status of this practice. Despite the fact that every year billions of dollars are wagered in unofficial office pools during the Super Bowl and March Madness, your office gambling is likely illegal.
Statutes in almost every state prohibit office gambling pools, and in every state but Nevada, gambling on college sports is illegal all together. Despite the questionable legal status of these office pools, they persist across the entire country.
- Some estimates suggest that total betting on the Super Bowl last year exceeded $10 billion
- College football wagers are estimated to total over $60 billion
- Estimates suggest that 50 million American’s participated in March Madness office pools in 2015, with over $2.5 billion on the line
- All of this activity is dwarfed by fantasy football, which attracts over 30 milllion American’s annually, with over $10 billion changing hands each year
The common thread in all of these cases is that the vast majority of the gambling occurs outside of official venues or channels. While the office sports betting pool is a common practice, and generally thought of fondly, it is still illegal. While some states have considered legislation to allow for small-scale office betting on specific events, such as the Super Bowl or March Madness, policy change has yet to be realized.
In the meantime, it is important to understand that these gambling rings are not yet legal. Employers who turn a blind eye to the practice expose themselves to legal repercussions, and employees should not feel pressured into participating. With specific inquiries contact Rice Law Office, PLLC for a free phone consultation at 603-528-5299 or visit our website for helpful articles and information.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.