Workplace Betting Pools

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

Workplace betting pools can be popular at workplaces this time of year, with events like the Super Bowl and the NCAA College Basketball Tournament providing opportunities for gamesmanship and team-building. While these activities can foster excitement in the workplace and allow employees to find common ground on issues outside of work, an employer should be aware of the downside of these pools. Some potential problems include a loss of productivity, the potential for strained co-worker relationships (e.g., sore winners or losers) and a potential increase in liability risks.

An employer has a number of options available when addressing betting pools, workplace gambling and fantasy sports leagues. For an employer particularly concerned with its image, reputation and resources, a complete ban of any workplace gambling may be in order. Some employers may choose to allow pools so long as no games are actually viewed during working time or while using employer-provided devices or networks.

However, an employer should be aware that some states may have specific rules regarding gambling that could affect specific workplace policies and practices. In addition, when dealing with an employee with a potential gambling addiction, an employer should take note that gambling addictions are not recognized as disabilities under federal and state disabilities laws and may be excluded from benefits coverage.

Using XpertHR's various Tools and resources will aid in increasing overall compliance and mitigating risk.

Tasks

Whether ensuring workplace productivity goals are met or managing an employee with a potential addiction, supervisors should have access to all pertinent resources when completing these tasks. The following XpertHR Tasks are available for consultation:

Manage an Employee With a Gambling Problem

Prevent Employee Time Theft

Monitor Employee Use of Email and the Internet

Supervisor Briefings

Employers may use specific tools for supervisor training on issues related to office pools and workplace gambling. For example, a supervisor may need to know whether an employer's nonsolicitation policy applies to a March Madness pool. If an employee is found to be engaging in online gambling during working hours, a supervisor may need to take action. XpertHR offers the following Supervisor Briefings to assist an employer in ensuring management consistency across the organization:

Handling Difficult Conversations

Enforcing Nondistribution and Nonsolicitation Policies in the Workplace - Supervisor Briefing

Handling Employee Misconduct

Policies and Documents

Employers may wish to institute a policy specifically addressing betting pools, workplace gambling and fantasy sports leagues. To assist, XpertHR provides the following model policies:

Office Pools, Gambling and Fantasy Sports Policy

Gambling Policy

Employment Law Manual

In-depth discussion of the compliance concerns surrounding pools and workplace gambling informs an employer's understanding of the liability risks inherent in ineffective performance management. XpertHR's Employment Law Manual provides comprehensive federal and state information and resources to help, available at the following links:

Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct > Gambling

Employee Discipline > Referrals to Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Employee Discipline > The Process of Discipline

Best Practice Manual

Because betting pools and workplace gambling may lead to a number of disciplinary situations, supervisors should follow best practices in employee discipline. XpertHR offers detailed information regarding the process of discipline in its Best Practice Manual:

Handling Discipline

Conducting Disciplinary Investigations

Conducting Disciplinary Interviews

FAQ

Are office pools for the Super Bowl or Final Four permitted?

What guidelines should an employer provide to employees conducting office pools?

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)