Is Betting on Sports in the Workplace Ethical?

State law and corporate rules address the ethics of  betting at work.
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Workplace gambling as an ethics issue has its merits, but another question is whether gambling at work is even legal in your state. Many states have laws against workplace gambling, making it an arrestable offense. Bruce Weinstein, the author of "Ethical Intelligence," said in an article for "Business Week" that "It’s a bad bet to gamble in the workplace."

Company View

    Some company leaders feel that betting on sports at work builds camaraderie among co-workers. Companies that foster this viewpoint feel that sports betting can build "team" spirit and social interaction among co-workers. Other companies take a strong stance against any type of sports betting at work. The question of whether betting on sports at work is ethical depends on your company's stance on it. Before starting a sports betting pool, check with your company's rules on betting at work.


    The ethics of betting on sports at work is a moot point if it is illegal in the state in which you work. Many states have laws against gambling. For instance, in Washington, unless you use a special "blind louck" type of betting pool structure composed of 100 squares, gambling is illegal at work. In Kansas, gambling at work is a class D misdemeanor. In New Jersey, all betting on sports is illegal, though there are many who are fighting this law in court.

Federal Workplaces

    Gambling at work is more than an ethics question in the eyes of the federal government. It's illegal in all federal workplaces. The government prohibits gambling of any kind while at work or on any government-owned property. The government defines gambling on sports or other events by the presence of three elements: a game of chance, a fee to play the game and the chance to win a prize for your contribution.

The Ethics Question

    Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D., is known as the "Ethics Guy" at Bloomberg Business Week and the Huffington Post. In that role he believes that gambling at work is not ethical. The workplace, he believes, is not the place to gamble. It's called a "workplace" for a reason, he says, "It's the place where we're supposed to work." His belief is that things that have nothing to do with your job should be done before or after work, on your own time. He's not against gambling in the right setting, such as in legal casinos; he just thinks it should be taken out of the workplace.

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