Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jan 21, 2010

Why office betting pools may be a gamble


Super Bowl is just around the corner and it’s time to get ready. Big screen TV? Check. Over-sized nachos? Check. Office betting pool? Not so fast.


Although many employers allow or even encourage a friendly wager over the big game, remember that betting pools may be illegal under state law depending on how they’re structured. For example, betting pools are allowed in Montana only if a randomly assigned grid is used. In Washington, sports betting pools are allowed only if using a 100-square grid and entrants pay $1 or less to play. In Oregon, office betting pools are generally illegal unless a city or county ordinance specifically authorizes it (ORS 167.117 to .121). In California and Idaho, office betting pools are always illegal no matter how they’re structured (Cal Penal Code 336.9 and Idaho Code 18-3802).


If you’re allowing employees to conduct an office betting pool, make sure you know your state’s law and how to comply. Clearly communicate to employees what will be allowed or prohibited, including whether any amount of company time can be used to participate, and make sure everyone understands that participation is strictly voluntary. With those worries behind you, sit back and enjoy the big game (and the over-sized nachos)! 


This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.