Monday, March 12, 2007

Legal Office Pools? [J. Mark English]

Most Americans will put a wager on their office pools for the NCAA brackets this week. Almost Americans that participate in this March ritual are in theory, breaking the law. When I was in sixth grade, I helped a teacher fill out her picks. She won the pot among teachers, and split $250 with me at the end of the tournament. Had this information been leaked to oh say, the local police, they may have been able to press charges against all the teachers in my school.

Thankfully, a Michigan state lawmaker is looking to make office pools legal. From Fox News:

If there's cash involved, technically you're breaking the law in Michigan. And a state lawmaker says that's criminal.

"What makes March Madness unique is that all kinds of people and sports fans of all levels fill out their brackets and enjoy the tournament," Rep. Kim Meltzer, a Republican from Macomb County's Clinton Township, said in a statement. "It's a crime we consider that a crime, and I want to change it."

Meltzer plans to introduce legislation that would decriminalize participation in an NCAA tournament office pool.

Under current Michigan law, placing as little as $5 in a tournament pool could be punished with up to a $1,000 fine or a year in jail. The law is rarely — if ever — enforced, at least for the typical office pool.

Police agencies and prosecutors say they have bigger things to worry about than small-stakes pools based on the tournament, whose 65-team field was set to be announced Sunday...

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