NCAA bracket pools: Are they illegal? - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

NCAA bracket pools: Are they illegal?

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Each year Americans bet billions of dollars on college basketball during March Madness, but do so at your own risk.

If you're taking part in a tournament office pool or in a group of friends, you should know it's actually illegal in our state.

North Carolina statute says, “Any person or organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or bets on any game of chance at which any money, property or other thing of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”

It’s the status quo in all but a handful of states (Nevada, Montana, Connecticut and Vermont), but most people see it as a little risk with the potential for a big reward.

"The thrill of it, the excitement, the enjoyment, sometimes it overwhelms you and we don't think it's that bad and there's a lot worse people out there,” says ECU sophomore Grant Klute, who’s participating in two pools this year.

Lt. Chad Suggs with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office says he does not consider the once-a-year event to be an ongoing problem. Instead, his agency's focus is on violent and property crimes.

"It would catch our attention obviously if someone reported something going on, or it became such a large operation that it involved a considerable amount of money and people,” Lt. Suggs says. “We would be less likely to be investigating an office pool unless a formal complaint was made with us. So we can’t tell you that you will be safe betting in your office pool, but we won't be knocking down your office doors to come search for those."

While he would take a report seriously, Lt. Suggs says the risk of prosecution is slim for low-stakes wagers – which means you can probably worry about your predictions rather than going to jail.

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