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According to estimates from last year, March Madness costs employers anywhere from $2.3 to $6.3 billion in lost productivity and profits. Between long lunches, streaming games at the desk, and organizing. updating, and conversing about the office pool, hours and dollars seem to disappear this month.
Does that mean you ban the brackets altogether? And if not, how do you decide when acceptable fandom and office camaraderie goes too far? Here are some legal tips on what to expect with March Madness this year, and how to make sure your company advances through the tournament, rather than getting bounced early.
If you thought you could just turn a blind eye to basketball for a month, good luck with that. Even more than the Super Bowl, the NCAA tournament brings together fanatics and non-fans alike, and for three weeks out of the working month, rather than three hours on a Sunday. Americans will wager an estimated $10 billion on March Madness this year, the vast majority of which is in small antes in the office pool. Rest assured, your employees are going to have some skin in the game.
Clearly, not all those bets will be made in Vegas. And that's more OK this year than in years past. The Supreme Court nixed the federal ban on sports gambling in 2018, and Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have since joined Nevada in legalizing sports betting. Those laws can vary from state to state, and limit where bets may be placed and collected. So, while filling out a bracket for an office pool is probably legal, you may want to check with local laws first.
Even if March Madness is unavoidable, it doesn't mean your small business needs to grind to a halt or a month. Embracing the tournament -- while setting some clear boundaries on production, viewing, and wagering -- can actually bring coworkers together.
If you have more questions about keeping March Madness at work legal and profitable, talk to an experienced commercial attorney for answers.
For a quick review of March Madness legal highlights, check out the infographic below: