WABASH VALLEY, Ind. (WTHI) – We’re in the throes of March Madness and there seems to be something for everyone this season!
But sometimes the fun and games of brackets and betting can go over the line.
Did you fill out a March Madness bracket this year? And if you did, did you also put a couple bucks down as a wager?
If you did, you just committed a crime.
“Generally, outside of charities or state-sanctioned gambling, it is illegal,” said Assistant Chief Shawn Keen, Terre Haute Police Department.
The NCAA takes a hard line against sports wagering. They even think the tiniest of office pools threatens the integrity of the game.
And, technically, with the exception of a few states, your little office bracket could be considered illegal gambling.
But they also understand if it weren’t for those same brackets, March wouldn’t have nearly the madness. According to Indiana statutes, residents are not permitted to place bets on sports events.
But here in Terre Haute, law enforcement isn’t going to pull resources off robberies and homicides to actively go door to door looking for crime.
“There’s not a lot of time we’ll have left over to actively go out and search for small office pools betting on sporting events… It’s just not practical,” Keen said.
News 10 asked a couple of bracket players whether they knew throwing a few bucks on their game was illegal. They did not.
But that doesn’t mean you’re quite off the hook. Police will investigate gambling tips.
“We’re obligated by our oath to follow up when a crime’s reported to us,” stated Keen. “There are specific agencies in the state that focus on these specific crimes and they have manpower assigned to do just that.”
Keeping in mind having fun doesn’t have to mean breaking the law.
Illinois has similar laws against sports gambling.