Is it Illegal to Bet on March Madness?

Yesterday started the second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the betting is in full swing, but are your office pools and friendly wagers in compliance with Arizona gambling regulations? Gambling is prohibited in the State of Arizona, but in most cases friendly bracket betting is exempt from this policy as long as you follow a few rules. In the eyes of The Arizona Department of Gaming you are in the clear if your betting can be classified as Social Gambling. The Arizona Department of Gaming defines Social Gambling as:

"gambling that is not conducted as a business and that involves players who compete on equal terms with each other in a gamble, if all of the following apply:

(a) No player receives, or becomes entitled to receive, any benefit, directly or indirectly, other than the player's winnings from the gamble.

(b) No other person receives or becomes entitled to receive any benefit, directly or indirectly, from the gambling activity, including benefits of proprietorship, management or unequal advantage or odds in a series of gambles.

(c) None of the players is under twenty-one years of age.

(d) Players "compete on equal terms with each other in a gamble" when no player enjoys an advantage over any other player in the gamble under the conditions or rules of the game or contest." 1

According to The Arizona Department of Gaming the top violations occur when the host of a game requires participants to pay any fees or donations, take a percentage of the winnings, or require purchases to participate. Any of these activities would be considered a direct benefit, causing the betting pool to no longer be considered Social Gambling, and thus illegal. Commercial establishments are at a higher risk of violating the indirect benefit stipulation. Bars that embrace a betting environment may bring in more customers, but the increase in sales would be providing an indirect benefit as a result of the gambling activity. 2

Office pools may be a great way to increase office morale, but employers should take extra care to ensure the gambling doesn't violate any Federal laws or The Arizona Department of Gaming regulations;  as well as any rules established in any office lease agreements or employer agreements. It is always best to independently consult with a legal expert before proceeding with any office pools.

For more information on Arizona's gaming regulations, follow the links in the source footnotes.

Source Footnotes:
1: Arizona State Legislature, Gambling Definitions
2: Arizona Department of Gaming, Gambling Tips to Remember
Image Source: Microsoft Clip Art
Disclaimer: This page and subsequent posts constitute Attorney Advertising. Posts and links are not legal advice; please consult with an attorney if you are seeking legal advice. Posts and comments by Robert Solliday are accurate for the State of Arizona at the time of publishing and , but may not be accurate for other jurisdictions or thereafter in due to changes in the law. Shared posts and links are not an endorsement. All comments and statements made on this page by other persons are the expressed opinions of their author, and not Robert Solliday.

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