Much time will be spent this week in person and online trying to make money on the NCAA tournament. There’s the blog hook for today. Online technology, and social media in particular, have made it much easier for employees to participate in all things college basketball, and to sit in the office and participate with those outside the four walls of the office.

If you haven’t been asked to join an NCAA pool yet, it’s more than likely that it’s not because you have no friends at work. Although the games do start today. But are NCAA pools legal? And is there any impact of social media? Many states exempt “social gambling” from their anti-gambling statutes. “Social gambling” is generally defined as playing for money in a purely social context, where no player (or other person, such as a host) can make anything more or different than from simply being a player like any other player. As long as the entire pool is distributed, with nothing taken “off the top,” it is generally ok in many states.

Nevertheless, the issue of office NCAA pools and social media raise a few noteworthy points:

  1. Loss of Productivity and Time? March Madness blogging and posting, and surfing the ‘Net for all things basketball, will take a lot of time. Time at work, and during working hours.
  2. Can Bobby Come Out To Play? Office NCAA pools should be open to everyone, and shouldn’t be a means for violating other workplace policies, such as by harassing or discriminating against people who choose not to join or who are not asked to join.
  3. Social = Social? Permissible “social gambling” generally requires some social relationship, meaning that the promotion of your office pool to those outside the company through social media may lead to a pool that includes those with whom there is no bona fide social relationship.

Employer Take Away: What should you as an employer take away from this development?

There are certainly bigger pictures that your company should consider when it comes to important issues and policies involving gambling and the impact that social media has had on workplace gambling. For the next three weeks, however, the reality is that this may be just another example of a lawyer turned NCAA Scrooge, as it is unlikely that the cast of Law & Order will be coming into your establishment merely as a result of these games. Perhaps you can just relax a little and allow for the morale of your employees to improve with the excitement and buildup of the year’s biggest sports tournament. It’ll all be over in a few weeks. And then we’ll have the excitement of baseball….