State Restrictions on Office Betting Pools
With big events like the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and college basketball’s March Madness come office betting pools. In addition to affecting office productivity, such pools may be restricted by state gaming laws. While betting pools usually amount to no more than harmless fun, and the risk of prosecution is low, employers should be aware of any restrictions as they decide whether to prohibit, ignore, or sponsor such pools. The rules in MSEC’s core states are:
Arizona: Permits “social gambling” which is gambling not conducted as a business and that involves players who compete on equal terms. No player must receive, or become entitled to receive, any benefit, directly or indirectly, other than the winnings. And no other person must receive or become entitled to receive any benefit, directly or indirectly, from the gambling activity. Sports pools using a grid are regulated if organizers keep a percentage of the money wagered. A.R.S. 13-3301 and 3302.
Colorado: Permits “social gambling” which is incidental to a bona fide social relationship and where there is no profit motive. The social relationship must be based upon a common interest other than gambling. And only the players can profit from the game or activity. C.R.S. 18-10-101.
Montana: Betting pools are allowed if a randomly assigned grid is used that gives every participant an equal chance of winning. M.C.A 23-5-512.
New Mexico: Permits “social betting.” Playing or operating of a game of chance, unless it is for money or something of value, does not violate state gambling provisions. N.M.S.A. 30-19-3.
Wyoming: Permits “Calcutta wagering,” where wagerers bid at auction for the exclusive right to “purchase” or wager upon a particular contestant or entrant in the event. When the outcome of the event has been decided the total wagers in the pool, less a percentage “take-out” by the event’s sponsor, are distributed to those who “purchased” or wagered upon the winning contestants or entrants. Several conditions must also be met as outlined in the law. W.S.A. 6-7-101.
If you wish to prohibit workplace gambling, be sure to communicate that in a policy or some other manner. Should you decide to sponsor or allow office betting pools, it is likely best to keep the stakes low and assure that neither the employer or any individual (other than the winners, of course) profits from them.