The Super Bowl. The Oscars. March Madness.  It seems like it’s always gambling season.  And likely there is one person in your office who is ever ready to get some friendly wagering started. The fact that any kind of gambling is illegal in most states is likely enough for most companies to leave this out of their employee handbooks.  Voices on both sides of the gambling can make the issue less and less clear for employees and employers.

So, what is the deal with gambling and betting in your office?

The Lack of Inclusion in Gambling

Gambling can be a polarizing activity. Many on your team may think casual betting builds camaraderie in the office. But there may be some who don’t see it the same way.  There could be employees who have an issue with gambling for personal or ideological reasons.  Further, there could be even more who feel excluded because they don’t understand the sport or the activity surrounding the betting.

Of course, betting in the office pool is not mandatory, and any of your staff can choose to participate or not.  But if you are looking for ways to unite more of your team, there are better solutions than gambling to bring your office together. Consider a regular gathering that will celebrate performance-related goals like “employee of the month,” company milestones, anniversaries, or birthdays. These give each employee a chance to participate without anyone feeling excluded.


When it comes to the impact office betting has on office productivity, there are two very different thoughts.  Some will argue that this activity in the office has a direct negative effect when it comes to people getting their jobs done.  Studies have reported losses in the billions of dollars due to decreased productivity. And many employees do admit to being sidetracked by their brackets and the time they spend researching their top picks.

However, last year, a CNBC poll reported that a majority of managers argued that March Madness boosted productivity and morale in their offices.  One thing is obvious: a clear policy for you and your team is a must.

Make it Fun

Another possible approach for something like March Madness is to create a fun way for folks to compete and develop comradery without gambling. Turn casual Fridays during March Madness into team jersey days. Or consider have screens in common areas (break rooms, conference rooms) so people can watch the games together during lunch and breaks. Maybe bring in lunch for everyone for those who want to watch when you reach more exciting games.

If your office is participating, you may also want to consider asking everyone to complete a bracket – no money involved.  Then split up everyone into teams and then center the wager around another group activity. For example, the losing side could provide potluck on the day of the National Championship.


When deciding what is best for your office, you should first understand the law in your state.  If it is illegal, this could be the only policy you need.  If it is allowed in your area, develop your company policy in line with your company values.  You don’t have to prohibit it entirely necessarily, but even placing a limit or set expectations around not interfering with productivity can help your team stay on track.

While many companies admit to not have a policy in writing, they likely would benefit from a documented procedure when and if issues arise.  You don’t want your office to be a joyless place, but the smart employer finds ways to draw his team together without risky behavior like gambling.


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