The Washington Post

Hey feds, don’t put money on those brackets

Bracket-wreckers: the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles and government lawyers. (Rob Carr/GETTY IMAGES)

With much of the country in the grip of March Madness, government lawyers (always playing the killjoy) want to make sure federal employees don’t go too crazy. Over at the Labor Department, a warning recently went out to workers in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, reminding them that wagering on college hoops is a big no-no.

“While betting a few bucks 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,” the memo warns.

That means you can’t throw a few bucks to Joe in accounting who runs the office pool. There’s no gambling on the premises when the premises belong to Uncle Sam.

Buuut, like with so many laws and regulations, there’s a loophole. So long as no money (or anything of value) is changing hands, a harmless little bracket is A-OK. Per the memo: “Given that many Federal employees are avid sports fans, these rules do not prohibit workplace sports pools created solely for bragging rights — not for money or personal property.”

So, federal workers will have to settle for “bragging rights,” which is really no small thing in most offices. And with the wild ride so far in the NCAA tourney, anyone who had, say, Florida Gulf Coast University advancing to the Sweet Sixteen deserves to boast.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.


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