Gambling in the Workplace-How Widespread is It ?

The internet has changed the way most offices function. Today work that took hours can be accomplished in a matter of minutes. Research can be done quickly and efficiently on the internet and most offices do not track or filter the online activities of employees. Internet access is an amazing productivity tool and is essential for companies engaging in e-commerce. In some workplaces it is not uncommon for employees to use the internet for purposes other than work. In the UK many office employees play an occasional game of online bingo or poker. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have caused controversy and some companies have blocked access to social networking websites.

Today employees do not have to leave their desks or cubicles to set up accounts with bookmakers or online bingo sites and casinos. Gambling in the workplace reduces productivity and can lead to other problems. Many employers are reluctant to discuss gambling as a workplace issue. Other employers say that gambling should be banned in the workplace because of health, occupational and safety issues. Employers do not want workers gambling on company time. Even if employers block access to internet gambling sites workers with smartphones and notebooks can bypass the office’s internet provider.

Some experts warn that because of increased gambling opportunities employers need to develop IT and social media policies to prevent and discourage gambling in the office. In Australia the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has been offering educational and training programs to prevent problem gambling as part of the commission’s occupational health and safety policies. It is very easy for employees to gamble. One gambling firm ran a full page ad that pointed out that it only takes about two minutes to set up a gambling account with a credit card. In the US federal laws prohibit the use of credit cards at gambling sites.

Internet access in the workplace is no longer an IT issue. It is also a human resources issue. One expert says there are two issues to consider;

Internet gambling during work time limits the amount of time an employee actually spends doing the job they’re paid to do resulting in lost productivity and an unnecessary cost to the company.
It is likely that this type of activity is in direct violation of the company’s internet usage policy in relation to use of equipment and internet access.

No one really knows just how widespread the problem is. Thankfully most employees can control their gambling impulses and do not use company time or equipment to gamble.




Jeff Davis