Special Assignment: The danger of betting in the office pool

By: Jeff Anderson Email
By: Jeff Anderson Email

News 12 at 6 O'clock, March 19, 2009

AUGUSTA---March Madness is here and that means it's bracket time. Every year, millions of people try to accurately predict who will win each and every game of the NCAA tournament.

What's the draw? Money, bragging rights or more?

Filling out NCAA brackets is almost an American past time for the month of March. You put down a few bucks and try to pick the winner. It's all in good fun, but remember putting a bet down on it is technically illegal.

Mike Tyler and Steve Smith are two fun-loving d.j.'s who get very serious about basketball.

And that's why it's NCAA Tournament time, the Kicks 99 studio becomes a house of brackets.

"The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. This thing (the bracket) is bragging rights for the rest of the year" Mike said.

They say it spices the tournament up for them.

"You have an interest in each and every game. One game could blow your whole bracket" Steve said.

"You're watching teams you don't normally have an interest in. You're watching 4 games at once. You're watching the scoreboard, the internet. It's like you're a Wall Street Trader" Mike said.

Here's how it works, you grab a NCAA bracket. Then you pick a winner in each and every game and hope for the best. To earn those, we'll call them, bragging rights.

In all seriousness, many office pools do involve a small wager of some sort $5 or $10.

But in Georgia and South Carolina, that's no different from playing poker for money. It is illegal and you can be arrested for it.

In fact, when it comes to gambling, with a few exceptions, if it's not the lottery, it's illegal in both states.

We contacted some local sheriff's offices to see what it would take for them to investigate an office pool.

Aiken County Sheriff's Office would need a complaint filed before they'd take a look.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength says it would have to be considered organized gambling before he'd commit to it. And, he says, $5 office pools are not organized gambling.

In Columbia County, they'll only take a serious look at it if the person who organizes the pool is taking a profit.

And no one seems to be organizing any office pool task forces.

But if this is a task you've taken on, Mike has a strategy to share.

"I watch ESPN constantly for Bob Knight's predictions and Dick Vitale's predictions. I then forget everything they've done and fill out the bracket" he said.

There are a whole lot of odds out there on your chances of picking a perfect bracket. A lot of them are in the range of one in 6 trillion.


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