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Are Office Lottery Pools Legal?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 30, 2012 5:56 AM

The Mega Millions jackpot has reached $640 million -- the largest in world history. People are scrambling for a chance to win, grabbing a few lotto tickets on their way home. Others are turning to office lottery pools, hoping that a few extra numbers will significantly increase their odds.

If you're part of this second group, take a few seconds and read below. Are office lottery pools legal in your state? What about in your profession?

Even if they are, is joining one a good idea?

If you work in a state where the lottery or gambling is illegal, it is probably a good idea to stay away from the office lottery pool. Take Utah, for example. The state prohibits all games of chance and the lottery. Even if you pool your money and then buy a ticket from another jurisdiction, the criminal statute may still apply. You were arguably participating in and promoting a lottery within the state.

Technically, office lottery pools are legal for employees of the U.S. Government. However, federal employees may lose their jobs or be reprimanded if they participate. Regulations prohibit federal employees from conducting a lottery or pool while on duty or on government-owned or leased property. The Department of Defense has also adopted this regulation for military members present for duty.

If you work for a state or a local governmental entity, you, too, may be subject to a similar provision.

Now, what if you don't work for the government and gambling is legal where you work? You're may still not be off the hook. Though office lottery pools are legal, they may still be against workplace rules. So before you get to gambling, talk to human resources. Don't get fired over a lottery jackpot you probably won't even win.

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