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Super Bowl® Block Pools – Think Twice Before Placing Your Bet
By Andrew W. Li, Mariel J. Giletto on January 30, 2018

Are Super Bowl® block pools legal? Our attorneys weigh in. 

It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year again, and this year is very special for Philadelphia sports fans because the EAGLES ARE IN THE SUPER BOWL®!

Football “block pools” are a great way to celebrate everyone’s excitement and create a jovial friendly competition among friends and co-workers. Some organizations even use such pools as a fundraiser.

But before you place your bets, your organization should think twice before circulating an email inviting everyone to participate in a football pool, especially if the pool requires a participant to pay for a chance to win.

Although it is tempting to consider the office pool as just a fun and casual way to spice up the big game, a Super Bowl® Block Pool could be considered illegal gambling in most states because all three elements of illegal gambling are present: (1) the price of buying a block in the pool, (2) the chance that the block will win a prize, and (3) a winning prize (usually a pot of money).

Most attorney generals probably would not prosecute a “minor” pool that only involves a small amount of money (like those where a block is sold for a dollar), a minimal number of participants, and where nobody is taking a profit (i.e. acting as a “bookie”) for running the pool, but you don’t want your organization to be either a headline or an object lesson.

Furthermore, in New Jersey, football pools could also be considered raffles, which are subject to the laws governing legalized games of chance, and therefore require a license issued by the State and approval by the municipality in which the pool is operating. Failure to obtain the required approvals has resulted in significant fines and penalties to organizations and individuals.

If you would like additional information about how to lawfully structure your Super Bowl® Block Pool, please contact Mariel Giletto or Andrew Li at 856.596.8900.

The content of this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion. You should consult a lawyer concerning your specific situation and any specific legal question you may have.

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