Sherpa Blog by Lance Gunkel: March Madness & the $837,000 Office Pool

March 17, 2015

Syverson Strege and Company | Sherpa Investment Managem

It’s time for March Madness to begin, which means millions of workers will bring their employers’ internet to a crawl as they live stream the NCAA basketball games.

What does this cost us in terms of lost productivity?  One consulting firm estimated the “lost wages” at $1.2 billion!  While there are some issues with this calculation, clearly there will be many folks watching games and not working.  However, an article in The New Republic argues that some of this lost productivity is made up for by the increased morale that employees garner from watching the games.

What about those brackets we all fill out in the office pool?  It’s estimated that 40 million people participate with $9 billion up for grabs.  Well, this bit of office distraction is technically a form of gambling and thus illegal, as this New Jersey man found out.  His pool grew to $837,000, which drew the attention of the NJ district attorney and he now awaits trial.

 So what’s my financial recommendation as it pertains to March Madness?  Choose the #12 seeds over the #5 seeds (the most common upset in the tourney), keep your office pool small and under the radar, and pick the Cyclones to get to the Final Four.

– Lance