I am involved with my local 501(c)(3) kids’ sports league and want to do a 50/50 Super Bowl pool, where half the money goes to the winner and half the money goes to our local league and another charity. Is this allowed?
Sports wagering is generally illegal in this country and, depending on your state or local law, your Super Bowl pool is probably technically illegal. If you are part of a national league system, it might also be a violation of the national’s rules.
That doesn’t mean that pools aren’t run every year by a whole lot of charities, clubs, businesses and other groups. They are so prevalent that some state attorneys general have announced that they won’t bother to prosecute if all of the bets are distributed to the winners, so that there is no “house” that skims a percentage of the total pool. Whether or not these AGs would change their minds if a charity took a fully disclosed cut for fundraising purposes is an open question.
Assuming that it is illegal in your locality, a lawyer should not advise you to do it. Clients often disregard their lawyers’ advice, however, and treat Super Bowl pools a little like jaywalking. The problem with doing something clearly illegal is that there is no defense if someone in authority decides to make an issue out of it. And it doesn’t set a very good example for young athletes.