Dos and don'ts of workplace gambling

March Madness spikes gambling in the work place


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's that time of year again. No, not when the weather warms up, but when the competition on the basketball floor gets hot.

It's March Madness and that means there's a spike in gambling, especially in the workplace.

Channel 4 talked to a local employment attorney about the dos and don'ts of betting on your favorite team at work.

Gambling is illegal here in Florida, but most people who are guilty of it usually only throw in a couple bucks to the office pool. That's a little less harmful, according to lawyers, but people still need to be careful.

"Pool gets to about to $500 to $1000," said employee Joshua Scott.

Scott's a kin to workplace betting. Each year, he says his co-workers encourage some friendly competition when it comes to picking who's going to win the NCAA tournament.

"Gambling is illegal in every state except for nevada," said Attorney Bob Riegel. "So it's technically illegal to bet on a college football or basketball game. However we all know that it happens all the time."

Local lawyer Bob Riegel can't advocate betting on the job, but he says it's often a harmless practice that could produce positive results.

"If employers try to shut down betting on a bracket, having a pool of people trying to make a friendly $5 bet, it can have a big effect on camaraderie and team effort," Riegel said. "On the other hand, the employers can't be a part of it."

Riegel said employers shouldn't allow the games to take place on company computers or bulletin boards.

Organizers shouldn't be members of management and must not use company resources.

"The employer can have a well, we know it's there, it's good for camaraderie, but we're not going to be a promoter, not going be a participant in that," said Riegel.

He said the odds of getting arrested for a simple bet on a bracket are slim, but an employer needs to step in if the stakes seem to be getting too high.

Scott said so far, any competition at his job has been under control, just simple fun. But so far, he hasn't struck it rich.

"Nah, I never won yet," Scott said. "I hope I will someday."