Your March Madness Office Pool is Safe...Unless

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The tournament bracket of the 68 teams trying to make it to San Antonio for the college basketball championship is out, and legal experts say that the annual office pool is legal, despite the Texas laws that ban gambling, 1200 WOAI news reports.

"If it's a situation where everybody has an equal chance of winning, then it very well may qualify for the exception and therefore not be illegal," Texas Tech law professor Wesley Cochran tells 1200 WOAI news.

Texas law prohibits gambling where the house takes a cut the action.  He says there are exemptions for things like backyard poker tournaments, where players pay for chips, but the person running the event is not taking a piece off the top.  

The most common office pools for the Final Four are run by one employee, who takes all the entries and then doles out the winnings to the people who guess the correct number of winners. 

But, Prof. Cochran says this can get tricky in today's corporate environment, where many large businesses have offices in different cities.  

He says if an office pool is open to multiple branches that could violate federal law, even if the person running it is not taking a piece of the winnings.

"The federal wire act was enacted many decades ago to prevent the transmission of gambling information over telephone lines," he explains.

But as for your office pool, he says you should be more worried about the HR department than law enforcement.

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