Just How Illegal Is Your March Madness Bracket?

Would a proposed online-gambling ban make your office pool a crime?

Your biggest bracket fear should be upsets, not jail time.
National Journal
Alex Brown
March 20, 2014, 8:42 a.m.

If you’ve heard about new ef­forts this week to ban on­line gambling, you’re prob­ably won­der­ing what that means for your of­fice March Mad­ness pool. Your an­swer, if that’s the sort of thing you’re con­cerned about, should be: “What March Mad­ness pool?”

You see, while on­line gambling was pretty much leg­al­ized on the fed­er­al level in a 2011 Justice De­part­ment de­cision, the rul­ing came with one ex­cep­tion: sports bet­ting. DOJ’s leg­al coun­sel “has ana­lyzed the scope of the Wire Act … and con­cluded that it is lim­ited only to sports bet­ting,” Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­er­al James Cole wrote in Decem­ber of that year.

So while the feds won’t crack down on on­line poker (at least for the mo­ment), put­ting money on your brack­et is tech­nic­ally il­leg­al, in ad­di­tion to be­ing fool­ish (and def­in­itely not something this re­port­er has wasted un­told dol­lars on).

While Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham and Rep. Jason Chaf­fetz try to re­store the Wire Act’s far-reach­ing on­line-gambling ban, oth­er le­gis­la­tion adds to the con­fu­sion. The Un­law­ful In­ter­net Gambling En­force­ment Act, passed in 2006, al­lows games of skill such as poker and fantasy sports (ap­par­ently pre­dict­ing ath­letes’ stat­ist­ics is a skill game, while pre­dict­ing game out­comes is not).

Cur­rently, three states — Delaware, New Jer­sey and Nevada — have sanc­tioned on­line gambling. That would plum­met to zero if the Gra­ham-Chaf­fetz bill goes through. At the oth­er end of the spec­trum, Rep. Peter King pro­posed a bill last year that would leg­al­ize and stand­ard­ize on­line gambling.

In the mean­time, the on­line gam­ing world re­mains a mixed bag of state reg­u­la­tions and little-un­der­stood, scarcely en­forced fed­er­al laws. So even though the let­ter of the law says your March Mad­ness wager could carry two years of pris­on time, you prob­ably have noth­ing to worry about — ex­cept for that up­set you nev­er saw com­ing.

What We're Following See More »
MARCIA FUDGE TO PRESIDE
Wasserman Schultz Stripped of Convention Duties
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz "will not have a major speaking role or preside over daily convention proceedings this week," and is under increasing pressure to resign. The DNC Rules Committee on Saturday named Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge as "permanent chair of the convention." At issue: internal DNC emails leaked by Wikileaks that show how "the DNC favored Clinton during the primary and tried to take down Bernie Sanders by questioning his religion."

Source:
EARLY BUMP FOR TRUMP?
New Round of Polls Show a Tight Race
2 days ago
THE LATEST
  • A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton, 43%-42%, the fourth week in a row he's led the poll (one of the few poll in which he's led consistently of late).
  • A Reuters/Ipsos survey shows Clinton leading 40%-36%. In a four-way race, she maintains her four-point lead, 39%-35%, with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein pulling 7% and 3%, respectively.
  • And the LA Times/USC daily tracking poll shows a dead heat, with Trump ahead by about half a percentage point.
BELLWETHER?
Candidates Deadlocked in Ohio
3 days ago
THE LATEST
17-POINT EDGE AMONG MILLENNIALS
Clinton Dominates Among Younger Voters
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

In an election between two candidates around 70 years of age, millennials strongly prefer one over the other. Hillary Clinton has a 47%-30% edge among votes 18 to 29. She also leads 46%-36% among voters aged 30 to 44.

Source:
NEW POLL SHOWS TROUBLE FOR TRUMP
Clinton Leads Trump Among Latinos by Nearly 70 Points
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

According to an online tracking poll released by New Latino Voice, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump among Latino voters, attracting support from 81 percent of Latino voters, to just 12 percent support for Trump. The results of this poll are consistent with those from a series of other surveys conducted by various organizations. With Pew Research predicting the 2016 electorate will be 12 percent Hispanic, which would be the highest ever, Trump could be in serious trouble if he can't close the gap.

Source:
×