Ethics: Betting On NCAA March Madness Brackets

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What would you do Wednesday!

It’s March and NCAA March Madness is here! March Madness inspired me to a little blog madness for today’s ethical scenario. Of course, we all know that Christians should not only not play the NCAA brackets, but we should especially not play those brackets with money…

…or should we?

March Madness inspires a little office madness as the bracket sheets circulate just begging for everyone in the office to join in the fun. Bracket Bob, the person organizing the bracket sheets, asks you to participate. You really enjoy March Madness and following your own brackets just for fun.

You ask Bob for the office madness run down. Bob knows you are a Christian and admits that he wasn’t sure if he should ask you or not because he knew there was money involved, but he heard you were following the games so he explains the office games to you.

Look, I know you are a Christian and probably don’t bet, but it’s only 10 bucks per bracket. (Laughing nervously) You probably spend more than that for a lot less entertainment. Seriously, each bracket you fill-out and turn in is $10. The money goes into the pool. If you win the whole thing you get 70% of the entry fees while second place gets 20% and third gets 10%. Right now we’re up to $200 and it may go to $300. What do you say?

What would you do?

  • Play, it’s only 10 bucks.
  • Ask if you can play without paying and winning money.
  • Politely decline while following the brackets on your own.
  • Ask him why he thinks a Christian can’t play then share the gospel.
  • Decline and tell him he’s going to burn for betting.
  • Or…
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The above article was posted on March 21, 2012 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tom Shelton March 21, 2012 at 11:33 am

I have faced almost this exact situation several times at work. I would assume many others have as well.

We had a guy who ran a pool every year (he is no longer with our company) and the entry fee was only $ 5. The first year I explained that I could not participate because of the betting involved because I believed that to be a stewardship issue. I don’t buy lottery tickets for the same reason. I continue to pick out my brackets and follow them and compare with those who chose to participate.

The main issue to consider is whether what we have is ours to do with as we please or is it given to us by God to be used to glorify him and to provide for our needs. I just can’t see how gambling can be seen to glorify God and therefore should not be undertaken.

2 Les March 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

Mark,

I see something like this as an adiaphora issue. I participate every year (I don’t ever win!). Gambling can become a problem, just as excessive drinking alcohol and many other things can, but I don’t see having some entertainment from office pools as necessarily a biblical moral issue.

3 Joshua March 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I am back and forth between Tom and Les. On the one hand, it seems to violate proper stewardship. On the other hand, one could view it as mere entertainment (similar to movies, video games, etc.).

I would not participate because my conscience cannot allow it. However, I would not go as far as to say the Bible condemns such an act, at least not yet.

4 Cathy M. March 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm

The $5 bracket game went round every year in the school where I taught. I didn’t understand it very well, so the English teacher next door always helped me fill mine out. My bracket always fell apart early, but it was all in fun anyway. I’m sure the blue-law bunch reverently placed their $5 in the missionary box having never indulged in so much as a bag of Cheetos at the convenience store, since junk food doesn’t glorify God. 🙂

5 Brett R March 21, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I also believe that this “can” be an adiaphora issue, but really falls under the heading of “unwise.” Gambling can wreck your soul if you lose and destroy your soul if you win if it is anything more than a mindless game played for mindless enjoyment.

I know my competitiveness. Therefore, I cannot do it. My brother, though, enjoys the whole thing, does pretty well usually, and there is no harm to his witness whether he wins or loses.

6 Michael Buratovich March 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

When I was in graduate school I ran a bracket “betting” ring in which every one who wanted to play put in $5 and the winner was the one who picked the charity to which the pool in the money went. We gave $100 to the local homeless shelter one year and $127 to the church food pantry the next year. I won the following year and the money went to World Vision. Kind of corny I suppose, but it was one way to keep up with the brackets and give to a worthy cause. I did take a risk that someone might have given to Planned Parenthood, but fortunately, for me, that never happened.

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