The legality of March Madness office pool betting

The legality of March Madness office pool betting

CREATED Mar 18, 2013

Reporter: Justin Schecker

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Now that the NCAA Tournament matchups are set, you've probably analyzed the Arizona Wildcats path to the Final Four. 

All it takes is a couple minutes to click and pick the 63 tournament games online. But before you buy-in to your office pool to show off your college basketball expertise, just make sure no co-workers are taking a cut of the prize money. 

"Office pools to be legal, 100 percent of the money that's put into the office pool has to go back out to participants in the pool," attorney Mike Piccarreta told 9 On Your Side, "or else someone's acting as a bookie which is against the law."

With buy-ins of only a couple of dollars, Piccarreta said the average office pool doesn't require someone to write up a detailed explanation of how to divide the money.      

"It is not like a lottery where's there's $300 hundred million and greed starts to overcome judgement," he said.

While it's illegal for anyone under 21 to gamble, Piccarreta said law enforcement officers are not looking to spoil your brackets. 

"Police really aren't too interested in busting office pools, in fact they probably have one themselves," Piccarreta said. "The lawyers circulate one and I'm sure a bunch of judges have signed up on them."

Piccarreta will be rooting for the Arizona Wildcats, but that doesn't mean he will pick the Cats to advance to Atlanta for the Final Four. 

"Sometimes I bet against it just to be a contrarian," he said. 

Piccarreta's last piece of advice is for those looking to really cash-in during this March Madness.  

"If you want to gamble heavily, go to Las Vegas," he said. 

Major online sites with bracket challenges such as ESPN and CBS Sports don't actually let you pick the first four play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday, so to pick the entire tournament, you might have to fill out your bracket the old-fashioned way.