Running an Office Pool

Running an office pool can be a lot of fun, but it can also cause some real problems if you don’t do it properly. You may also find yourself in some situations which won’t impress your employer if they become problems.

Office pool basics

An office pool is run like a sweep:

  1. A set amount, like a dollar bet on the result of a big Triple Crown race or the Super Bowl, is made by individuals.
  2. All bets and amounts are recorded, and the record defines entitlements.
  3. The terms of putting money in the pool, prizes, and payments are explained to everyone who contributes to the pool.
  4. The pool money is paid out to winners on a clearly defined basis.

The person operating the pool is responsible for making sure this is done fairly, and that there are no grounds for dispute.

Things to avoid

This is a situation where mistakes and misinterpretations can cause real trouble. If running a pool looks simple, the real issues are what you shouldn’t do and what you mustn’t do.

These are the big “Don’ts” of running an office pool:

Don’t change the terms of the winning payments: That’s legitimate grounds for complaint under any circumstances, particularly if someone gets less than they thought they would. Expect a complaint to management, or from management, if this happens.

Don’t run the pool at a profit to yourself: This can breach gaming laws, and it can get you in trouble on principle, even if you’re only running a small pool and have some money left over.

You may also find yourself getting fired. Employers can’t be expected to like a betting business operating illegally on their premises. It’s “improper conduct” in any possible sense of the expression. 

Don’t create complicated pool systems, or try to run too many pools: You may find that you not only get complaints from winners and losers, but also find that the pools aren’t fully subscribed, so you have to pay out of your own pocket.

Don’t argue with management about running pools: If management says “No”, believe it. Consider it an instruction, because that’s exactly how management will react if you go ahead and run a pool when they’ve told you they don’t want you to do that.

 Make sure your pool is run honestly: The person in charge will be held responsible for any honesty issues. The likely reaction from co workers to a dishonest pool is likely to be ferocious. Stay in control of all pool money, keep it safe and secure, and make sure you’re not short of cash when all entries are in.

If you’re short, it’s really your fault. Handling cash comes with natural risks, and you should be well aware of them before you even consider operating an office pool.

Operating rules for office pools

  1. Keep everything simple and friendly.
  2. Don’t handle large amounts of money.
  3. Stay in charge of all money handling and payments.
  4. Stick to any rules or guidelines from management.