Keep those office Super Bowl pools small and legal
It is Super Bowl pool time again. If you're wondering whether that pool can be legally problematic, an expert says no, as long as you think small.
Ultimately, though, it really depends on where your company is located. In New Jersey, "social betting" is legal as long as there is no kickback to the organizer.
Kathie Caminiti, a New Jersey labor attorney and partner with Fisher and Phillips says the betting pools are legally benign in New Jersey as long as it just runs around the workplace.
"If it's social activity, the law is not going to get in the way and create any legalities as long as there are no kickbacks," Caminiti said.
The attorney said the poll may also cross a legal line by getting too big, "it doesn't seem to be 'social' any more, or where somebody is taking something 'off the top' for their trouble for organizing the event."
According to Camaniti, legal problems can also arise if the pool involves interactive gambling with other offices in other states or on the internet, which can run afoul of federal law. She says "it gets tricky if an office has locations in other states or they are using the internet or faxes to essentially take bets or submit boxes, because then you are using interstate commerce, and it actually could be a violation of federal law."
The only other issue might be workplace friction that involves certain staff members. Caminiti said there could be a problem that might involve, "a discrimination complaint if gambling is against someone's religion and they complained about it or felt coerced to engage in that activity. Those would be the type of lawsuits that would come to mind immediately."
Employers, the attorney said, have two different issues: one is a loss of productivity, for which they would want to make sure they have policies in place. And two, as long as an employer is only operating in New Jersey, they would not have to worry about the gambling laws in our state.