As Northwest Indiana residents scramble to fill out a bracket, some might want to pause before adding money to the mix.
Earlier this year, Indiana State Excise Police cracked down on businesses accepting money bets for Super Bowl XLVIII. Three Lake County bars were cited and face charges of public nuisance for promoting professional gambling.
Indiana State Excise Police said those charges are still pending.
According to Indiana law, organizations and businesses can having drawings by following strict guidelines on how much an individual can pay and the overall money prize. However, Indiana law states that there can’t be a drawing where the winner is determined by a sporting event.
Excise police did not return multiple calls for comment.
Bridges' Scoreboard Restaurant and Sports Bar in Griffith was one of the three bars cited earlier this year by excise police. Scott Bridges, co-owner of the sports bar, said he could not comment on the citation because the charges are pending.
He said the citation has not kept customers from the sports bar.
“We just keep plugging on,” he said.
Bridges said the bar plans to have food specials and multiple televisions tuned to the NCAA games throughout the tournament. He said people in the past have taken the day off from work to watch the games at the bar.
While there is debate over the legality of betting on the NCAA tournament, some experts say incorporating the tournament into the work environment can benefit employees.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an outplacement firm based in Chicago, said in a news release that a 2009 survey from Microsoft estimates 50 million Americans participate in office pools during March Madness.
Ellen Kossek, the Basil S. Turner professor of management and the research director for the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence at Purdue University, said employers should incorporate the tournament into the work day because many employees already are secretly watching the games at work or participating in office pools.
"People work very long hours today," she said. "Most workers want to do a good job. I just feel like people need to have a little fun."
Kossek suggests having a low-stakes office pool where the money raised can go toward a charity or a special lunch. She said the games can provide a lot of lessons in teamwork, leadership, creativity and sportsmanship.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. estimates that companies can lose as much as $1.2 billion because March Madness can curb worker productivity. However, the firm said employers should allow workers to participate in NCAA tournament events because it could impact long-term employee morale.
Kossek said employers can balance productivity and the tournament by offering an extended lunch where employees can watch the game together or end the work day early one of the tournament days.
"We need to make work a little more fun for people, especially for those working long work hours," she said. "It might actually help productivity."