With the NBA playoffs in full swing, and the NCAA tournament just behind us, employers have the opportunity to review policies around office betting pools. While friendly office bets around March Madness, the Super Bowl, and other events are often seen as harmless fun, there are serious downsides to that type of activity.
The first concern comes down to worker productivity. While this is admittedly less of a concern for a one-off event like the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards, a betting pool based on events like the NBA playoffs or NCAA Basketball Tournament can offer a month long distraction. Given the very real ability to monitor (or even watch) every game from your computer at work, all workers face the temptation stay informed throughout the day at the expense of their work related duties.
The second worry centers around the legality of office betting pools. Many states have laws that prohibit office gambling, and while it is unlikely that local law enforcement officials would spend significant resources enforcing this law given the widespread prevalence of office gambling, it may still be illegal under the letter of the law.
Companies concerned with potential legal infraction, or the almost certain decrease in productivity, associated with office betting pools have the option of posting clear company policy prohibiting the activity. While office betting pools can be fun, they’re likely neither worth the risk nor the distraction.