Warning signs an office pool may be illegal

Over the next week, offices across the country are going to lose almost $1 billion in productivity, as employees sneak a peak at the NCAA tournament, listen online and check their brackets every few minutes.

And if you work in an office, there's a very good chance you have an NCAA tournament pool.

50 million Americans participate in office pools this time of year.

But is it legal?

According to the Wall Street Journal, betting pools are technically illegal if the winnings are not reported to the IRS. Which means that most NCAA pools are stretching the boundaries of the law, according to a report on CNBC.

Warning Signs Your Pool May Be Going Too Far

But relax: The government has never prosecuted an office pool.

However, to avoid trouble, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC have the following suggestions:

     -Keep wagers small. If you are all betting $100 or more that's a sign your pool could be pushing the limits of the law.

     -The coordinator of the pool cannot profit from his work, or take a cut of the winnings. That's called taxable income.

      -There should never be an entry fee for your office pool. $5 toward the party or cake afterward is fine.  A $10 entry fee should be questioned.

      -Request that the winners and runner up winners names be posted publicly, with their brackets posted, so you can be sure there is no favoritism.  ("What? The boss won again?")

Finally, the report says your best bet is to try to avoid being an office pool administrator, not just for legal reasons, but to avoid the headaches of trying to collect from everyone.

As always don't waste your money.

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