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Best Ways to Deal With March Madness in the Office

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 03, 2016 12:00 PM

Ah, Spring: the return of sunshine, flowers, and the office March Madness pool. By now, those carefully inked brackets and employees surreptitiously streaming games are as ubiquitous as conference calls and Reply Alls.

Like the inexorable passage of time, you may be powerless to eradicate March Madness pools from your office, but that doesn't mean they need to derail your company's productivity for an entire month. Here are the best ways for your office to handle March Madness this year.

1. Is It Legal to Bet on March Madness at Work?

First of all, know the law. And the law, according to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act makes it illegal to bet, gamble, or wager "on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games." The Bradley Act, as it is also known, does have exceptions for a few states and fantasy sports, and whether office March Madness pools fall under that exception is up for debate.

2. Do You Need a March Madness Policy at Work?

Your employees will want to set up an office pool for the tournament, so why not be proactive about it? Designated a certain watch area, like a spare conference room, instead of having every employee stream games at his or her desk, can avoid a drain on bandwidth. Prioritizing specific projects and benchmarks can battle an overall productivity loss. And letting your employees know you're in on the fun can strike the right balance between an outright ban of March Madness pools and outright chaos of staff binging on 32 games in two days.

3. 5 Tips for GCs Dealing With Madness This March

It never hurts to call on your legal counsel for help with March Madness. If you have in-house counsel, work with them on communicating with staff regarding the legality of office betting pools and creating a coherent March Madness policy for the entire office. Your attorneys can also advise you on keeping managers out of employee pools (always a good idea) and how to be sensitive to employees that may have moral or psychological issues with gambling.

If you don't already have legal counsel with which to discuss how to handle March Madness in the office this year, you may want to contact an experienced employment law attorney near you.

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