This is the time of year when people all across the county turn their workplace into a crime scene. Obviously, I'm talking about NCAA basketball tournament brackets. Now, just filling out a bracket is completely legal. Even the President of the United States fills out a bracket. But, honestly, is everyone filling it out just for the fun of it?
Across the country, 20% of employees have bet on NCAA Tournament pools, going up to 27% for senior management, and 40% for IT professionals. Have no doubt; wagering money on the outcome of college basketball games is illegal almost everywhere in the US. There are three federal laws that would likely apply to most cases: the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and the Uniform Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
Do people really get arrested for filling out NCAA brackets? Yes, they do.
Covering Your Assets
If you're a business owner or manager whose employees are running an office sports betting pool, you may be wondering how this affects you? If you're not actively betting, you're not breaking the law, right? Wrong.
Your business. Your gambling house.
Michigan has its own set of laws against gambling. Basically, it is a crime to accept any money or valuable and pay out money or valuable things based on the unknown outcome of some event, like a basketball game.
Obviously, the people collecting money for the bracket are breaking the law. But, the owner or manager of the place where the gambling is happening is guilty of keeping a gambling house, if they permit or allow gambling in any building or place that they own, occupy, or control.
You don't have to go home, but you can't gamble here.
Like the classic Semisonic song says, just let your employees know that gambling at the workplace is not allowed. You may not want to be a jerk about it, but you also don't want to be the manager of the employee whose office pool turns into an $837,000 crime scene.
What, me worry?
Sure, there are worse crimes to worry about at the office, and you don't have to act like a nanny to your employees. But, if you're running a business, it is your life. You shouldn't let other people play games with your life.