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Federal employees warned about March Madness

A federal employee attempted to enter The Post's bracket challenge at the workplace and was denied. The employee sent along this e-mail from the employee's agency, sent out last Friday. It provides high comedy.

Gambling in the Federal Workplace

College basketball teams are now playing in their respective league championship tournaments and soon the "NCAA March Madness" brackets will be announced. Many sports fans are accustomed to placing a friendly wager on a favorite team. While betting a few dollars on sports is often viewed as a harmless social pastime, if done at work it runs afoul of the Federal regulations that prohibit gambling for money or property in the Federal workplace. Predicting teams that will advance in a college basketball bracket purely for fun or picking winners to claim bragging rights in the office are not the types of conduct that generally raise concerns.

Federal rules on gambling are found at sections 735.201 of title 5 and 102-74.395 of title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Specifically, these sections prohibit employees from gambling while on duty, or while on government-owned or leased property, unless necessitated by their official duties. These restrictions apply not only to Federal employees, but also to members of the public at large, contractors, vendors, and exhibitors when on GSA-controlled property.

Violations of the regulations may be cause for disciplinary action by the employee's agency, which may be in addition to any penalty prescribed by law.

The only authorized exception is for activities and games that take place during the time period of the annual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), in accordance with Executive Order 12353. However, CFC raffles are not synonymous with gambling when conducted in accordance with part 950 of title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Legally defined, gambling requires 3 elements:

* A game of chance,
* Consideration for the opportunity to play the game, and
* An offering of a prize.

A game of chance includes, but is not limited to, a raffle, lottery, sports pool, game of cards, the selling or purchasing of a numbers slip or ticket, or any game for money or property. Consideration includes a participation fee, a wager of money, and something of value in return for the possibility of winning a reward or prize. A prize would include a monetary award, or a tangible or intangible item. Examples include meals, drinks, administrative leave, gift certificates, tickets to events, or cash.

In addition to the OPM and GSA regulations, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), Policy for Personal Use of Information Technology Resources, HHS-OCIO-2006-0001, section 5.4.3 (2/17/06), prohibits the use of government equipment, such as computers and e-mail, for illegal gambling activities. This includes related e-mails sent from a personal account if done using a government computer.

Violations of this policy may be cause for loss of use or restricted use of government equipment, disciplinary action, or financial liability.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 15, 2010; 12:47 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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Comments

People I don't feel sorry for: federal employees.

Posted by: Tank2 | March 15, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

A few years ago some people in my office at a federal department wanted to do a "Biggest Loser" type thing. Everybody paid in like $20, and whoever lost the largest % of body weight would take the money. I think there was about 25 participants, including a few of the government supervisors. When the head of the department found out, she put the kibosh on it as illegal gambling. That really killed morale.

Posted by: cecathcart3 | March 15, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Not sure I see the hilarity.

Posted by: WorstSeat | March 15, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the boss of the person who sent you the email doesn't find out that an agency memo went out to the Washington Post.

If you think the Fed has a problem with "gambling" they don't get too excited about internal memos getting out to the press.

Tank2, i'd be interested to hear why you don't feel sorry for federal employees

Posted by: wizardsextreme1 | March 15, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

March Madness "brackets" have gotten out of control. I don't care about the gambling, but every dope in the country thinks they know something about the game this month. Then you have to listen to them scream for Texas A&M at a bar so he can beat Phyllis in Accounting for 9th place in the office pool. Blech.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 15, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

what exactly is funny about this? Waste of internet space if you ask me. Of course noone did. Most places have some kind of gambling laws or rules for the work place, and as we all know, the government must have a regulation for everything due to the sheer size of the work force and the need to keep the legal system in business. I can't tell if the originator of the mail is attempting sarcasm or just being informative, either way, if you don't like it, leave your cushy job where there are probably 3x as many people there to do it as needed, which affords you the time to play in pools, research and write out long e-mails to the WP, and probably boohoo around the coffee mess about it, and become a contractor so you can get paid more and do what you like. Oh yeah that would mean maybe not having your job basically guarenteed for life by one of those regulations you complain about....

Posted by: dbrine1261 | March 15, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"Hopefully the boss of the person who sent you the email doesn't find out that an agency memo went out to the Washington Post. "

Well if the policy actually affects external entities such as vendors then the memo needs to go out to the entire public and posted on their website. Could you imagine losing a federal contract because of some NCAA bracket?

Posted by: doesntmatter | March 15, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"Specifically, these sections prohibit employees from gambling while on duty, or while on government-owned or leased property, unless necessitated by their official duties."

lol How would gambling EVER be an official duty??

Posted by: MarylanDChris | March 15, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

At most government agencies, a union person has to sign out and use some type of leave (I can't remember what type of leave the union people used to use in the federal agencies I worked in) in order to conduct union business during their regular tour of duty. I wonder when Mike Tosee's ( an employee of Haskell Indian Nations University, a BIE school in Lawrence, Ks) 8-page 'union related" emails were written, if they were written during his regular scheduled hours. I hope all the federal employees clocked out during their "picket" also...but they probably exercised their "flex time" privileges.

Posted by: zooami1 | March 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Warner ( Pres. Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, Ks) became a pawn in their political game……in the end Dr. Warner was vindicated. All grievances were dropped. So who holds the FEDERATION OF INDIANSERVICE EMPLOYEES - AFT -AFL/CIO, Local 4524 accountable and keeps them from ever again abusing the power they are suppose to use to help employees who have really been wronged? Not just a small group who want to see an employee wrongly
removed?

In this case Dr. Linda Sue Warner.

Guess what? You do not get to use the union to pick your boss, unless you work at Haskell and you are one of the Friends of Venida Chenault.

In their letter to Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, U.S. Senators Pat Roberts, Sam Brownback, and U.S. Rep.Lynn Jenkins and Congressman Dennis Moore voice grave concern over role of The Haskell Indian Nations University’s Federation of Indian Service Employees union.


Posted by: zooami1 | March 15, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

What's funny is congress and the senate are more corrupt then any ncaa march madness pool. I'm sure if we went through their email's and file's while in govt, they'd be guilty of a lot more. I thought sexual harassment & bribery were against the law too, especially while in public office? It's always the little guys that they want to set an example of, meanwhile joe congressman/woman is having their basement finished for free(or below cost) by a builder that won a big federal contract.

Posted by: larry40 | March 15, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Didn't our president just lose a bet on a hockey game? Oh, I guess the bet was not made on Federal property!!!

Posted by: joedobre | March 15, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. The memo states, "Predicting teams that will advance in a college basketball bracket purely for fun or picking winners to claim bragging rights in the office are not the types of conduct that generally raise concerns." I guess that's to cover President Obama when he unveils his bracket at the White House like he did last year. He's just picking winners to claim bragging rights in the (Oval) office.

Posted by: misterbeauregard | March 15, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, duh, office pools and college basketball (not to mention pro football) are not officially sanctioned parts of the workday for 99% of us. Additionally, unemployment is high. Use a little discretion people.

Posted by: didnik | March 16, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

So, "Legally defined, gambling requires 3 elements:
* A game of chance,
* Consideration for the opportunity to play the game, and
* An offering of a prize."

Certainly sounds like TSP contributions to me.

Posted by: CE08 | March 16, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention the CFC campaign that the federal government sponsors every year. Surley there most be more important things to be concerned about other than a little March madness.

Posted by: ravenlunatic | March 17, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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