How To Deal With Gambling in the Workplace

The past few years have seen a sharp uptick in the number of online casinos and betting sites, as well as the number of people engaging in this exciting yet dangerous activity. In fact, gambling became so accessible that many offices now unsuspectingly double as casinos.

For businesses, employees with gambling problems mean lost time, increased chances of fraud and embezzlement, decreased employee motivation, productivity, and accountability.

But gambling problems might stem from the office itself: Since the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, many companies that switched to remote work were eager to find ways to engage their workforce and keep it motivated. Group bingo nights or office polls and competitions are commonplace nowadays, and though they may not seem dangerous, these certainly are gambling activities at their core. With that in mind, we decided to talk about the dos and don’ts of workplace gambling.

Why Office Polls Aren’t Just Harmless Fun

Suppose your office holds polls during sports tournaments or other competitive events – for example, voting on who will win this season of The Bachelor – to boost engagement at work. In that case, you might be breaking the law and harming workers already prone to gambling.

The truth is, although many enjoy participating in them, such activities can lead to disharmony within the organization, especially if there’s real money involved. And even though social gambling seems harmless, there is some legal risk to it as well, depending on your jurisdiction. For example, there are cases of employees suing their employer for organizing betting polls and making them relapse into gambling addiction.

Promoting gambling in any way can be very harmful, as it might push employees with gambling problems to relapse, which leads to absenteeism from work, lower productivity, and mental health detriments. On the business side, it might cause workers to commit crimes and damage both the company’s reputation and its finances.

How Can Employers Deal With This Problem?

It goes without saying that every employer must provide and maintain a healthy working environment for their employees. But what does this mean for gambling?

A gambling disorder is defined as a behavioral addiction that can lead to psychological harm and health and safety risks to employees. Employers have an obligation to their employees to address gambling in the workplace by reducing the likelihood of gambling at work as much as possible.

To that end, employers can:

  • Assess the risk: Employers can check workspace computers and see if they were used for gambling purposes and limit access to those sites, at least on company devices.
  • Leave handouts: Companies can always take a preventative approach and distribute information about gambling to all employees and communicate with them about responsible gambling, as well as offering support if a relapse does occur.
  • Have a workplace gambling policy: To prevent gambling during work hours and help employees steer clear of it, companies can implement a workplace gambling policy. For example, these policies might permit social gambling activities like betting on who’ll eat the most cookies in an office, but prohibit the use of workplace equipment to access online gambling sites.

Final Takeaway

Gambling can easily turn from a benign pastime activity to a full-time obsession. A gambling addiction ruins families, breaks friendships, and makes people unrecognizable. People with a gambling addiction cannot be fully devoted to their family, friends, or work since their minds are always elsewhere. That said, it’s essential to recognize the first signs of a problem and provide a strong support system to help employees overcome these issues.

Author: Editorial Team

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