The Evil of March Madness
By Paul
According to a press release from employee Internet management company Websense, the Internet is leading to a colossal loss of productivity at work – through sports gambling.

March Madness – the NCAA basketball tournament – could face $504 million in lost productivity due to employees checking scores and viewing game webcasts during working hours. More importantly, a large portion of this amount is lost specifically to employees participating in online sports gambling.

Approximately 14 million people visited sports Web sites during last year's basketball‘March Madness’ season, according to PC Data Online. And according to sports gaming site, approximately 3 million people worldwide entered online pools for the tourney.

According to, 75% of U.S. workers participate in office wagering. In addition, a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report found that 30% of employees participate in NCAA office pools, which could, say Websense, pose legal problems for corporations, especially in the US – where betting on college sports is legal only in Nevada. An indication of the extent of college sports betting is the $600 million – plus per year that is wagered in Nevada.

``Employers need to understand that the friendly web-based office pool can place companies at risk of lawsuits or bad publicity,'' said Jennifer Kearns, a labor and employment partner at the law firm Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP. ``To reduce liability, businesses should enforce policies on workplace wagering with an accurate employee Internet management product,'' Kearns added.

Of course, Websense have a vested interest in stopping employees from using the internet for leisure pursuits while at work – that’s what they do. But it seems unlikely that US federal or state officials will be bringing any prosecutions for participating in office pools, online or not, it would be impossible to enforce across the board. What the latest information does is reinforce the perception suggested by a recent report into online gambling – that it is in fact a mainstream activity.

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