March Madness frenzy starts as employees begin office pools

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE)- The March Madness frenzy is consuming more than just the 65 teams battling for the NCAA Championship. This week, sports fans across the nation are heading to the office are participating in bracket pools, in hopes of turning their picks into cold hard cash. But can this become an illegal form of gambling?

It's harmless fun as long as you play by the rules. While some office pools vie for the cash reward, four car salesmen who work at the Mercer Nissan Mazda dealership in Lufkin are in it for the love of the game.

"We just do it amongst ourselves and just put a few bucks in between the salesmen here and then we just pick the bracket and whoever has the closest most accurate bracket wins," said salesmen Christopher Troutman.

Office pool participants won't risk punishment as long as there's no house fee, and it remains a friendly pool among co-workers.

"We just throw in a little five dollars in the pot and whoever wins, wins," said internet manager and sales representative Jimmy Brooks.

"Oh it's just a lot of fun. We all get to kind of root for our favorite teams and then it's just a competition between all the guys," said general sales manager Jeff Boyd.

Some companies don't allow office pools because employees can get caught up in following their teams.

It's been reported nationwide employers lose more than a billion dollars in productivity during the first week of March Madness. At the Mercer dealership, the focus is on work, with just a bit of play mixed in.

"I could see where employees if they had continuous access to computers and a TV to watch, could spend their time doing it," said owner Roger Mercer, who says his employees are too busy to let the harmless fun become a distraction.

"Nobody spends all their time watching it. It wouldn't be a great loss here, and I just don't see my employees doing that," said Mercer.

What they do enjoy is a short break to discuss the top picks.

"It's a chance to break the monotony of sitting here looking for customers and a chance to talk about sports," said Brooks.

Then it's back to work for these sports fans.

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