Is your NCAA tourney office pool legal?

(KFVS) - Thursday is the first big day of the NCAA basketball tournament with 16 games on the slate.

What would it take to fill out the perfect bracket? How about 1 in 147.5 quintillion.

According to the experts, that's actually how many different ways you can fill out a bracket with this year's 68 team field.

Or maybe you're playing in an office pool a seemingly harmless office competition, right?  Maybe not!

Throwing in a couple of bucks in an office pool is actually illegal in each of our Heartland states.

It happens in offices across America, people drop in a few buckets to have their one shining moment, winning their NCAA office pool.

But tossing $5 in for your bracket could put you in prison.

Pursuant to Chapter 572, RSMO, any person who engages in an unauthorized gambling activity, promotes an unauthorized gambling activity, or possesses gambling records or any devices or machines, such as slot machines, that are used in an unauthorized gambling activity faces penalties ranging from one day to one year in the county jail to a maximum of four years in prison, as well as fines ranging in the amount of $10 to $5,000.

The NCAA defines gambling as "putting something at risk - such as an entry fee or a wager - in return for the opportunity to win something."

While, college athletes are forbidden from gambling others are not. The FBI estimates more than $2.5 billion will be wagered illegally on the NCAA tournament.

For students athletes, violating the rules could mean possible suspension from games or even permanent ineligibility for the remainder of a student's collegiate career.

According to the Southeast Missouri State University code of conduct, "Students can receive a warning or probation with the university along with a $35 fine, counseling, and/or assigned research related to gambling."

However, the KFVS Bracket Challenge is legal.  You can compete for a prize as long as there's not an entry fee.

So if you don't have to pay to enter, go ahead, fill out your bracket, but even the smallest of bills could lead to trouble.

Check out the TV schedule of the NCAA tournament on KFVS12.  Not sure what channel your game is on this year since the games are split over four networks?  Check out this link to get the local channel listings where you live.

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