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March Madness Could Mean Mayhem For Your Business

If you live in Albany, you’re sure to know that the University at Albany men’s and women’s basketball teams will be playing in the NCAA tournament. Even if you’re not a UAlbany fan and you follow the Buffalo Bulls who are making it to the tourney for the first time, you’ve got Bracketology on the brain. And so do your employees.

While it is one of the most exciting times of the year, it is a drain to your business and a NY liability exposure. The numbers are staggering, in fact. According to the law firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, American companies will lose at least $1.7 billion in work productivity. Total online viewership during work hours reached 8.4 million during the 2010 tournament, and that was five years ago!

ncaa_march_madness_logoProductivity is probably going to be your biggest hit during the tournament, but it is important to consider the NY liability that arises from office pools and online gambling.

The Society for Human Resource Management reported that 30 percent of employees are involved in office betting pools, but 63 percent of companies do not have policies regarding gaming or gambling in the workplace.

58.3 million people are expected to participate in an office pools. Is your office pool legal? No, unless you happen to have a location in one of the few licensed states. Employers that allow an office pool to take place at the business could be found to be advancing gambling activity, which could also be prosecuted as a crime.

The bigger exposure with your office pool is the discrimination that may result. A small percentage of women compared to men participate in pools.  An employer that sanctions an activity that is clearly preferential to male employees increases the risks of a sex discrimination charge.  While the existence of an office pool alone may not be the basis for a charge, it may be additional evidence of alleged gender preference.

Let us not look over the effect that gambling—and worse, one’s gambling addiction – can have on your company. Not only does gambling decrease productivity, but it can lead to theft and fraud. There have been lawsuits filed against employers that alleged such activities either caused or contributed to a gambling addiction due to the allowance of workplace gaming and a failure to establish or enforce a policy to prevent it.

Yes, your employees may enjoy your annual office pool, or shall we say some of them enjoy it. As you can see, however, it is best to steer clear of pools and office gambling. With the loss in productivity and potential NY liability exposures, it just is not worth it.

At The Murray Group, we believe it is our job to provide you with risk management advice and not just a NY business insurance policy. Through our LiveSECURE 365™ process, we help our partners achieve their goals and provide financial security for their future.

If you have any questions about NY liability, NY business insurance or would like to discuss your risk management program with us further, please do not hesitate to contact myself or a member of our risk advisory team. We welcome the opportunity to make your business a better business.

Live Secure 365,

Ryan Murray

VP, Risk Consultant

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