Ready. Down. Hut! Hut! Hut!

Football season is here, and with it come workplace fantasy football leagues. Employers may find that employee participation in fantasy football leagues can help build morale and camaraderie and encourage a team environment.

However, there can be risks beyond the potential loss of employee productivity. This is particularly true if employees must place monetary wagers for participation in the fantasy league that would ultimately be payable to the league’s winners. Such wagers can amount to gambling, and employers may risk violating state and federal gambling laws if that is the case.

Employers can reduce this risk by only allowing employees to use their own resources and time to conduct fantasy sports activities, even if, in reality, it is largely unavoidable that employees will use company computers in conducting these activities.

Additionally, the risk of violating state or federal gambling laws can be most effectively reduced by using fantasy sports solely as an organized, inclusive morale builder. Employers can offer participation for free, with the winner receiving a trophy or a relatively nominal gift, such as a gift card or preferred workplace parking. Harmless social gambling versus liability for illegal gambling under state or federal law becomes a bigger issue when employees are contribute their own personal wager to participate.