JA warns against office betting pools

Courtesy of the 86th Airlift Wing Judge Advocate Office

March Madness is here, and though it is an exciting time of year, it can also be a potentially dangerous time for Airmen who are unaware of Department of Defense regulations regarding gambling.

With the beginning of the NCAA basketball tournament, many will be creating brackets and betting money on their picks to win each round, but before putting your money in an office pool, the following guidance is important to remember.

According to the Joint Ethics Regulation (DOD 5500.7-R), DOD employees shall neither participate in gambling activities while on base nor while on duty. This includes both military and civilian personnel.

Gambling has been found to consist of three elements: an activity requiring payment or wagering something of value, an element of “chance” and a goal to win a reward or prize.

Although some Airmen may believe their bracket picks involve a level of skill, there is simply too much of an element of chance involved. NCAA tournament betting is gambling. Also, officers need to remember that gambling with a subordinate may constitute a violation of Articles 133 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The potential for this to occur is much higher when participating in an office pool. It is not worth risking your career.

Furthermore, DOD personnel should not use their office computers to bet during March Madness or at any other time. Besides violating the Joint Ethics Regulation, this might be considered a misuse of government property.

For example, there was an instance where a group of people ran a fantasy football league on their government computers.

Each member paid $10 to play, and the winner was obligated to buy pizza for the rest of the group, actually spending more than he even won. The members only participated in the fantasy football league during breaks and at lunch time; however, this was still found to be gambling. These activities were also a misuse of government resources because the computers were government property.

If anyone is considering betting on the NCAA tournament, they should remain informed about Air Force regulations regarding such activities. Those who are unsure if a gambling-type activity is permitted should contact the Staff Judge Advocate’s office at 480-5911.