As America enters into another year of the National Football League, gambling is set to take center stage yet again. Casino Watch Focus has reported on the emergency of daily fantasy sports as the newest form of sports gambling. Some jurisdictions have appropriately labeled it gambling and either outlawed its practice or regulated it accordingly. Other states have yet to make a formal proclamation about this form of gambling. But as with other forms of sports gambling, like NCAA March Madness or the Super Bowl, the impact from such gambling will be felt in the workplace at home. Fortune Magazine has reported on the staggering amount of money fantasy football will cost employers, the results are nothing short of shocking:
According to Chicago-based employment research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the sheer number of fully-employed fantasy football freaks could cost U.S. employers close to a whopping $17 billion (with a “b”) in lost productivity. That total eclipses the amount of total revenue the NFL took in last year, which was a mere $13 billion or so.
These numbers are hard to crunch, acknowledges Challenger, which came to this sum using the estimated 57.4 million people in the U.S. and Canada (ground zero for the NFL fandom) who play fantasy football, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. The FTSA also estimates that 67% of those players (38.5 million people), work full time. And using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the company estimated those players earn roughly $25.69 per hour, on average.
If you assume that to be the case, each hour spent poring over matchups and obsessing over results costs employers in aggregate $898.1 million in lost or unproductive wages. And assuming each player spends an hour of work time each week fiddling with lineups every week of the regular season, the total would come to $16.8 billion.
Not all of this lost productivity is without employee consent as some workplaces even allow office pools and fantasy football leagues in which even senior members of leadership participate. However, just because some companies are aware of such activities, it doesn’t lessen the legal consequences when the gambling is deemed illegal. The Miami Herald explains:
Office pools and fantasy leagues remain a great way to bring positivity and fun to the workplace. Used properly, fantasy leagues can be a valuable team-building exercise, similar to an office March Madness pool during the NCAA tournament. Employers must be cognizant of issues related to gambling and increased work distractions, however. By creating an office pool or fantasy league, employers must be aware that creating such a pool or league may inadvertently encourage employees to spend part of their work day focused on their fantasy teams rather than work-related activities.
Employers must always be mindful of the potential impact on productivity in the workplace and ensure that any office pools or fantasy leagues are not out of bounds of the law. In order to ensure that employers are operating within legal boundaries, they should consult with an employment attorney.
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