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Gambling your job with office betting?



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“How’s your bracket?”

Even if you’re oblivious to all things related to March Madness, chances are you’ll be hearing that question a lot today. And it’s also likely to be your colleagues doing the asking — especially with the fate of the office pool hanging by a last-second jump shot.

Nearly 72 percent of respondents to Vault’s 2011 Office Betting Survey admitted to taking part in some kind of office pool. Of those, some 65 percent said that their workplace gambling had included an NCAA bracket.

A rising sport

The rise of March Madness as the nation’s favorite office pool is a recent phenomenon. The last time Vault conducted the Office Betting Survey — in 2008 — the Super Bowl was the most popular gambling event in the office on the annual calendar, with 51 percent of respondents having participated.

Don’t forget that work is still work

Workers need to be careful not to spend too much of their on-the-clock time on their picks.

While 77 percent of employees claim to spend less than half an hour of work time on them, any perception that you’re shirking your duties won’t go over well.

“The next time I see [colleagues focusing on office pools], I’m going to put a note on all the bosses’ desks to make them aware,” warned one respondent.

A way to escape the daily doldrums

Most respondents seem to view workplace gambling as a means of having some fun in the office.

But gambling is prohibited in many places and frowned upon by some employers. So if you have any doubts, be sure to check your company handbook — 47 percent of respondents didn’t know if their company had a policy.

“Office betting can be a harmless practice that gets colleagues to pull their heads out of the daily vortex and join together for a few minutes of fun,” said Vault’s career expert, Vicki Lynn. “But spending too much time going over picks, researching teams, watching games or discussing the betting pool will raise a red flag with managers and could become problematic. It’s best to keep it to an acceptable minimum.”

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