March Madness Brackets: 'Fun, Harmless,' But Still Illegal In PA

Mar 21, 2013

If you win your basketball bracket pool at work, you might need that money to pay a fine — because it's illegal.

It might not be "madness," but a state lawmaker says it is "ridiculous" that filling out brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament in an office pool is still against the law in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) has introduced legislation that would legalize small sports betting pools. She said the current law governing these pools is "antiquated." She also said the pools are a "fun, spirited and harmless" way to test one's knowledge and luck at sports.

"No game is being fixed," she said. "No family is losing their weekly paycheck, and those who operate the pools don't receive any compensation, yet we deem their participation in these pools as a crime."

Under her legislation, Senate Bill 483, small betting pools such as March Madness brackets would be legal if:

  • the entry amount is $20 or less
  • there are no more than 100 participants
  • there is an established social, professional or familial relationship among contestants
  • all pool proceeds must be awarded to the contestants or donated to a bona fide charitable organization

Boscola noted that other states including Vermont and most recently Montana have legalized small betting pools.