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On Monday the Kansas University Provost's Office sent out an email to faculty, staff and students telling them: "Bracketology is fun, but in Kansas, placing bets on the NCAA basketball tournament is fun with a twist — betting on your bracket is also illegal. Don’t do it."
The memo urged folks to resist the temptation to put their money where their mouths are and limit the season's bracket-filling contests to bragging rights only. It referred further questions to KU's in-house counsel.
The memo is a reminder at tourney time and not a response to any specific incident on campus, said KU spokesman Jack Martin.
Other employers around town don't take the same pains to highlight the perils of betting on brackets. Belinda Rehmer, a spokeswoman for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, said the hospital leaves people to police their own behavior.
"We haven't done anything to tell them not to bet," she said. "We just expect them not to."
Rehmer said if employees join in bracket contests, they do it on their own, outside of work.
Likewise, Lt. Greg Murray of Lawrence Fire Station No. 1 said firefighters there were well aware of city policy and state prohibitions on gambling. If firefighters fill out brackets, they do it on their own and for bragging rights, Murray said. They do make dinner and watch the KU games when not putting out fires and attending to health emergencies.
Megan Gilliland, communications manager for the City of Lawrence, said employees were excited for post-season basketball, but they had no in-house bracket competitions, and the city hasn't had to send out official communications about gambling policies.
So let’s say you do set up a little cash pool with your pod-mates, or maybe outside of work with the neighbors. Is anyone actually going to come after you?
Judy Taylor, attorney for the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, said it could happen. The practice counts as sports betting, whether those participating realize it or not.
“I think most people don’t even think about it, they just put it together and don’t even consider it gambling,” Taylor said. “It’s just something people have been doing for ages.”
However, Taylor said she couldn’t recall hearing about any cases where individuals were prosecuted.
“For most jurisdictions that’s small potatoes, and they don’t have the resources to bother,” she said. “They’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
— Sara Shepherd contributed to this story.