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Is Your March Madness Office Pool Illegal?

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office pool, illegal gambling, Will County criminal defense attorneyIt is that time of year again. As the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament gets underway this week, millions, if not tens of millions, of individuals of individuals will toss a few bucks into the office pool and try to fill out a bracket that beats everyone else's. According to Forbes, more than $9 billion—yes, billion—will be wagered on this year's tournament, more than double the amount illegally wagered on the Super Bowl last month. This number does not even account for additional $4 billion expected to be lost by reduced productivity during the tournament as employees monitor their chosen teams. While there is little use denying that office pools are here to stay, it is important to realize that, according to Illinois law, illegal gambling is a crime, and an office pool constitutes illegal gambling.

What Does the Law Say?

Under Illinois Criminal Code, a person gambles when he or she “knowingly makes a wager upon the result of any game [or] contest.” It is considered gambling when a person “sells pools upon the result of any game or contest of skill.” While there are a number of provisions in the law that permit gambling in certain settings and situations, sports betting and office pools are not among them. The law also provides that gambling is considered a Class A misdemeanor, meaning that maximum sentences could range up to $2,500 in fines and imprisonment of up to one year.

Possibility of Prosecution

Several years ago, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart discussed concerns over office-level betting. He indicated that, unless your pool was related to organized crime or spans a number of states, the police are not really interested. “We are so busy,” he told NPR, “I'd have to have my head examined if I were chasing around office pools.” He went on to suggest he might even participate in an office pool if a team or two from Illinois were in the tournament, but none made the cut that year—or this year, as a matter of fact.

The IRS, many law enforcement officials warn, is a bigger concern for office gamblers. If you win substantial money in an office pool, and you fail to report the income on your tax return, you could face serious trouble. Gambling winnings must be claimed as income, and failure to do so could constitute tax fraud.

More Questions?

If you have additional questions about gambling laws in Illinois or if you find yourself facing charges of illegal gambling, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney today. We will help you understand your options, and will work with you to ensure your rights are fully protected. Call 815-666-1285 and put our knowledgeable team on your side.


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