DOINews: All DOI Employees: Gambling in the Workplace

Last edited 09/05/2019

To: All Employees

From: Melinda Loftin, Designated Agency Ethics Official

Subject: Gambling in the Workplace

March Madness fever is here. Millions of anxious viewers will be glued to the season's basketball games, ready to pick their brackets and, for many, place bets on their favorite team.

While nothing compares to the excitement of seeing your team advance in the tournament, placing a wager on the outcome of a game, for even a small amount of money, is absolutely prohibited in the Federal workplace.

Federal rules prohibit employees from gambling while on duty, or while on government-owned or leased property. These restrictions apply not only to Federal employees, but also to members of the public at large, contractors, vendors, and exhibitors when on GSA-controlled property. Federal rules on gambling are found at sections 5 CFR 735.201 and 41 CFR 102-74.395.

Violations of the regulations may be cause for disciplinary action by the employee's agency, which may be in addition to any penalty prescribed by law.

The only authorized exception is for activities and games that take place during the time period of the annual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), in accordance with Executive Order 12353. However, CFC raffles are not synonymous with gambling when conducted in accordance with part 950 of title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Legally defined, gambling requires three elements:

  • A game of chance;
  • Consideration for the opportunity to play the game; and
  • An offering of a prize

A game of chance includes, but is not limited to, a raffle, lottery, sports pool, game of cards, the selling or purchasing of a numbers slip or ticket, or any game for money or property. Consideration includes a participation fee, a wager of money, and something of value in return for the possibility of winning a reward or prize. A prize would include a monetary award, or a tangible or intangible item. Examples include meals, drinks, administrative leave, gift certificates, tickets to events, or cash.

In addition to the Federal rules, State law may also prohibit gambling activities and impose additional penalties. The best advice for Federal employees is to avoid any March Madness office pools or workplace activity where employees gamble on the outcome of a game.

For additional information, please contact the Departmental Ethics Office at or 202-208-7960.

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