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Place Your Bets: Wagers in the Workplace Gaining Acceptance

As March Madness takes sports fans by storm, a new survey shows that office betting may be gaining acceptance in the workplace.

Placing bets in the workplace might be controversial, but the practice also seems to be gaining acceptance among workers. According to the Vault 2013 Office Betting Survey, 79 percent of respondents believe it is appropriate to engage in office betting pools, with many considering the activity a way to bond, raise morale and build relationships in the office.

The survey results revealed that 70 percent of respondents admitted to participating in an office betting pool, while 80 percent claimed to know a coworker who has participated in such pools. Survey respondents suggested that such office betting could present a bonding experience and help coworkers build stronger relationships.

“Business professionals are working harder to meet the demands of today’s workforce and need something that allows them to let off a little steam,” explained Tara McCaffrey, VP of marketing at “Office betting, done the right way, has the ability to bring coworkers closer together. When you build camaraderie in and out of the office using a social event like March Madness or the Academy Awards, it can enrich aspects of the actual workday, such as teamwork and project flow.”

For many respondents, their employers' official take on office betting remains murky. Nearly half of professionals surveyed (49 percent) were unsure whether their company has any policy regarding workplace betting. Among the rest, 11 percent reported that their company does have a policy in place regarding office betting, while 39 percent claimed their company does not.

Time and Money

Just over half of those surveyed reported spending fewer than 30 minutes of their workday discussing, researching and making their picks, with 15 percent of respondents admitting they spend up to hour on this effort.

“I see the people involved spending an awful amount of work time on organizing and managing their fantasy leagues and betting pools,” said one respondent. “If I owned the company, I'd be pretty upset.”

The most common forms of office betting pools, as well as the percentage of respondents who say they would participate, include:

  • March Madness – 69 percent
  • Super Bowl – 60 percent
  • NFL games – 37 percent
  • Coworker’s pregnancy – 17 percent
  • Award shows – 8 percent
  • Reality TV show competitions – 4 percent

Despite its prevalence, betting at work doesn’t automatically translate into big bucks spent or won. Fewer than half of respondents (48 percent) said they played for an actual cash reward. Those who did pay to enter pools paid $10 or less (38 percent) or $11-25 (19 percent).

Not all respondents were ready to ante up. Nearly a third of respondents (29 percent) felt that office betting has a negative impact on work. “I think [betting pools] are unethical and in bad taste in any workplace setting,” one respondent commented. “They set a poor example and interfere with work productivity.”

McCaffrey warned that those who do take part in an office betting pool should do so for the right reasons. “It’s about having fun,” she said. “When you take it too seriously and spend too much time researching teams, making the right picks, and obsessing over the games, work suffers and that’s a problem.”

View the complete findings from the 2013 Office Betting Survey.

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