A federal employee attempted to enter The Post's bracket challenge at the workplace and was denied. The employee sent along this e-mail from the employee's agency, sent out last Friday. It provides high comedy.
Gambling in the Federal Workplace
College basketball teams are now playing in their respective league championship tournaments and soon the "NCAA March Madness" brackets will be announced. Many sports fans are accustomed to placing a friendly wager on a favorite team. While betting a few dollars on sports is often viewed as a harmless social pastime, if done at work it runs afoul of the Federal regulations that prohibit gambling for money or property in the Federal workplace. Predicting teams that will advance in a college basketball bracket purely for fun or picking winners to claim bragging rights in the office are not the types of conduct that generally raise concerns.
Federal rules on gambling are found at sections 735.201 of title 5 and 102-74.395 of title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Specifically, these sections prohibit employees from gambling while on duty, or while on government-owned or leased property, unless necessitated by their official duties. These restrictions apply not only to Federal employees, but also to members of the public at large, contractors, vendors, and exhibitors when on GSA-controlled property.
Violations of the regulations may be cause for disciplinary action by the employee's agency, which may be in addition to any penalty prescribed by law.
The only authorized exception is for activities and games that take place during the time period of the annual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), in accordance with Executive Order 12353. However, CFC raffles are not synonymous with gambling when conducted in accordance with part 950 of title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Legally defined, gambling requires 3 elements:
* A game of chance,
* Consideration for the opportunity to play the game, and
* An offering of a prize.
A game of chance includes, but is not limited to, a raffle, lottery, sports pool, game of cards, the selling or purchasing of a numbers slip or ticket, or any game for money or property. Consideration includes a participation fee, a wager of money, and something of value in return for the possibility of winning a reward or prize. A prize would include a monetary award, or a tangible or intangible item. Examples include meals, drinks, administrative leave, gift certificates, tickets to events, or cash.
In addition to the OPM and GSA regulations, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), Policy for Personal Use of Information Technology Resources, HHS-OCIO-2006-0001, section 5.4.3 (2/17/06), prohibits the use of government equipment, such as computers and e-mail, for illegal gambling activities. This includes related e-mails sent from a personal account if done using a government computer.
Violations of this policy may be cause for loss of use or restricted use of government equipment, disciplinary action, or financial liability.