With the first round of the 2023 NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament kicking off, some 68 million people are expected to bet over $15.5 billion on March Madness in the next few weeks.
And though it could be cool chatting about who might win the title in one of the sporting world’s most-watched events, the competition could be a massive financial expense for businesses.
Corporate losses this year tied to unproductive workers during March Madness could reach $16.3 billion, according to the personal finance website WalletHub. To add, gambling in the workplace could be another issue employers need to be mindful of as the tournament unfolds over the next three weeks.
According to a new American Gaming Association survey, around 18 million more people will place wagers on March Madness versus the latest Super Bowl. And with gambling popularity rising, observers say that potential activity at work is another issue employers need to be mindful of as the games unfold.
However, the encouraging news is that March Madness does not necessarily have to be a pitfall for your business. Some observers stated that it could be good for employee engagement, help boost employee morale as camaraderie increases, and could actually help elevate productivity.
According to Shawe Rosenthal L.L.P., an employment and labor law firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies and small businesses, March Madness can be enjoyable for companies. It stated employers can take clear-cut actions to “ensure the office has safe, legal, and fun activities.” The firm offers extensive commentary on the March Madness topic, including limiting personal device usage during work.
Another business, payroll software firm Patriot, even offers several ways to engage employees during the tournament. See suggestions from the firm here to potentially make the tourney alluring.
To help avoid any possible legal issues, experts suggest office pools do not include entrance fees or cash prizes. They also recommend setting up a designated area for employees to watch the games. They added doing that could help prevent Internet bandwidth or overload, with everyone watching the games at the office.
Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and president of Employco USA, provided some tips to help employers minimize lost productivity during the tourney.
He suggested employers send out a companywide reminder about in-office betting. Wilson advises that companies should have a no-gambling policy, including office pools.
Another suggestion from him is if you know employees will want to attend a game or watch it from their homes or favorite bars, now is a good time to issue a reminder about asking for personal days off. Remind employees that they must request such days in advance and that late call-ins could result in a penalty.
For workers with potential gambling issues, find aid to help combat that here, here, and here.