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Office Pools -- Good or Bad Idea?

Betting on football at the officeOffices across the U.S. were abuzz with the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 1. March Madness begins on March 17.  Throughout the year there are fantasy teams as well as events and occasions (e.g., the birth of an employee’s child) that trigger a betting pool among employees. Office pools may be present in two-thirds of all companies.

Should you allow or ban pools at your company?

Positive effects

It’s believed that office pools foster morale and bonding among staff members. There’s no actual outlay for the company, even though it can have positive effects for the company.

Negative effects

Many experts say that office pools can have a serious impact on productivity, costing businesses billions annually. (The projected loss for March Madness 2014 was $1.2 billion.)

There’s time out for chatter and betting. What’s more, some employees actually watch or listen to games at work or take time off before or after a big game.

Of course, you can find experts that argue office pools increase productivity in the long run by creating a happier workforce.

Employers should be aware that betting, even with nominal amounts, may be illegal under state law (even though enforcement of the law may be nil). Thus, even if office pools are overlooked, employers should be careful not to give them any actual support.


It’s your call. But trying to ban any pools may be futile; employees likely will find a way to make them happen if they want them and the company will be perceived as a meanie.

Just make sure that employees aren’t pressured by co-workers to participate if they don’t want to and that the company doesn’t agree to any illegal activities.


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