As this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament nears the finish line, with the “Final Four” teams set to play this weekend, many people in New Jersey and across the country will be watching the big games with one eye on their college hoops brackets.
NCAA basketball tournament pools are big business, with millions of people participating in office pools and filling out brackets every March. According to LazerWager, an online gambling site, more than one-quarter of U.S. employees participate in these kinds of college hoops office pools, “betting” as much as $2.5 billion. Meanwhile, the American Gaming Association, a casino-backed trade group, said that Americans were likely to wager more than $9 billion on March Madness this year.
Fine, just about everyone does it – or at least it seems like just about everyone does it. But was it legal for you to participate in your office pool this year?
Everyone Fills Out an NCAA Bracket, But Is It Legal?
Although prosecutors are unlikely to crack down on the person who wins your office pool, it is still worth asking if participating in an NCAA basketball pool is, strictly speaking, legal. Well, unless you live in Nevada, it is against the law to place wagers on college sports. Sports gambling, much like certain casino crimes, is definitely prohibited by law in New Jersey.
A person who runs or organizes a March Madness office pool may be at greater risk of being arrested and incurring severe criminal penalties. Last year, John Bovery, a schoolteacher in Middlesex County, NJ, learned this the hard way. Bovery reportedly ran a March Madness office pool that generated 8,000 entries and had a total prize amount of $837,000. Bovery was charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:37-2(a), which explicitly bars anyone from “promoting gambling.”
Generally speaking, though, as long as you don’t run an NCAA basketball office pool that crosses state lines and that generates thousands of dollars, law enforcement probably isn’t going to pay much attention to it.
In the unlikely event that you are ever arrested for participating in, or even winning, a college hoops office pool, don’t make the mistake of telling the police or the prosecutor that it’s okay because “everyone else does it, too.”
For further information, view the Yahoo.com article, “Is Your March Madness Office Pool Legal?”
If you have been arrested for betting on sports, promoting gambling or for any other criminal offense in South Jersey, you need to talk to a qualified criminal defense lawyer. The experienced South Jersey criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.