Basketball bracket-mania may cost employers billions

FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo made with a long exposure, a player runs across the NCAA logo at midcourt during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament college basketball game. The NCAA last year cut in half the penalty for athletes who fail screenings for substances like marijuana, and its chief medical officer is pushing for college sports’ governing body to get out of the business of testing for recreational drugs altogether. The AP found that some of the nation’s biggest universities, from Oregon to Auburn, have already eased their punishments as society’s views on marijuana use have changed. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – March Madness is officially in full swing, with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament about to tip off.

The American Gaming Association is estimating that Americans will wager $9.2 billion on March Madness this year.  That number is up from last year.

Much of that madness happening in the workplace.

A report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that more than 50.5 million American workers, or 20%, could participate in office pools this year. The loss of productivity in the opening week of March Madness could cost employers nearly $4 billion in lost revenue.

“I think it would take away from having something to look forward to and just keeping up with the conversation. I don’t think it would stop the work from getting done,” Ronnie Venson of Springfield said.

According to that same report, each hour of the workday wasted on building brackets or watching games will cost employers $1.3 billion.

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