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March Madness Office Pools Costs Employers $1.8 Billion

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Mar/17/2010
March Madness Office Pools

Most work places this week have partaken in the annual ritual of setting up March Madness office pools while the more savvy employee uses his or her Web-enabled phone to place March Madness bets online at establishments like Sports Interaction.com (the first licensed online bookmaker in Canada).

Reality check:  Sports bettors will typically wait until they get home or take their lunch breaks to place bets on March Madness.  The cost factor to employers comes into play as a result of work force productivity declining drastically.  The March Madness office pool is all too time consuming an affair.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas's annual report on workplace productivity losses during the wildly popular hoops tourney provided the ominous figure of $1.8 billion drained.

"For the nation's employers," states the Challenger March Madness report, "the men's college basketball tournament, better known as March Madness, marks the arrival of several other annual rituals: employee-organized office pools, a potential dip in productivity and a marked decline in Internet speed, as workers soak up bandwidth watching live streaming broadcasts of the tournament games during office hours."

They substantiate such claims with factors such as employee dithering for a minimum of 20 minutes per work day as they mull over their losing brackets.  But that's just the beginning.  In today's tech-savvy world, employees can now watch the games live on their laptops, PC's and portable devices.  With the tournament getting underway Thursday, those 20 minutes of distractions may quickly turn into an hour plus.

"Keep in mind that it is nearly impossible to gauge the impact of March Madness on productivity in an information-based economy where workers possess portable technology that allows them to work from anywhere and any time. This estimate is probably about as accurate as the point spreads computed by Las Vegas bookmakers," Challenger notes. "Those who insist there will be no impact are kidding themselves. It might be a slight drop in output or it could be slow Internet connections as bandwidth is sapped by employees watching streaming feeds of the games."

Office pools may not even be legal whereas placing a bet online IS.   That's because the office pool encompasses placing and receiving "bets" and ultimately paying them out all within the confines of an office space located within the United States.  Online gambling involves the acceptance of wagers outside of US soil where it is legal.  Placing bets on US soil via the Internet is not illegal in most states unless you happen to reside in Washington State where it is indeed a felony.

In practical terms, the risk of prosecution is close to zero, but then again.....  Some say Big Brother is watching more than ever before today.

Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com  

 

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