Money is exchanging hands at offices throughout New Jersey as folks hope to hit big with the workplace Super Bowl pool.

Chris Hogan lifts Patriots into Super Bowl
The New England Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in Houston on Sunday for the Super Bowl LI title. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Generally speaking, this type of gambling is legal in the Garden State. But a couple wrong moves can make it go from raising camaraderie to raising red flags.

According to Phillip Bauknight, an attorney with labor law firm Fisher & Phillips in Murray Hill, criminal investigations into workplace betting pools are very rare, and the odds of them leading to legal trouble are slim as well, given certain factors don't get out of hand.

"As long as you keep the stakes low - $5 or $20 a box - you're going to be okay," Bauknight said.

In most office-wide pools ahead of the big game, employees place their names in a grid of 100 boxes and the winners are determined by the teams' scores at the end of each quarter, or overtime if necessary.

While there's no requirement that one send out a mass email to inform every staffer of the pool's existence, it couldn't hurt, according to Bauknight. What's more important is that no worker feels forced to participate; the memo should just note that boxes are available if anyone's interested.

He also advised that the pool not be handled by the company. An individual employee can do the work of creating the grid, filling it with names and collecting the owed money.

"No matter who runs the pool, no money should be taken off the top," he added.

And if the pool is run at a business that's open to the general public, employers would be wise to prohibit public participation.

In a new survey from OfficeTeam, a company of New Jersey-based staffing firm Robert Half, 66 percent of workers said incorporating Super Bowl into the workplace can boost employee happiness.

"With that in mind, we've heard that companies will have employees fill out brackets where there is no exchange of money," said Ryan Gatto, senior regional manager for Robert Half. "Instead, prizes like company-awarded gift cards are given."

In the same survey, about two-thirds of workers said they are no more or less productive at work the day after a major sporting event. Loss of productivity, as it relates to betting on Super Bowl and March Madness, is a common concern among employers.

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