Can Betting In NCAA Office Pools Get You Arrested?

This is the geometry of March Madness.

Brackets setting a framework for how the NCAA tournament will be played out.

But which schools will advance in the tournament and which one will become champion?

Before the first basket was sunk, Americans began making their tournament guesses, and sinking millions of dollars into office pools.

But did you know that jumping into those pools in California could make you a criminal?

Margaret Hamblin says "and I've never had any problems. I've never been in trouble any other way and all of the sudden I'm a felon."

That's what happened to great-grandmother Margaret Hamblin.

She got in trouble last year for operating a $50 football pool at the Elks Lodge in Wildomar where she tended bar.

An anonymous tip led police to her and the lodge secretary Cari Gardner.

Both women face criminal charges and a possible $5,000 fine or a year in jail.

California Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries says "we've run out of jail space, we've got crime, gang problems, we don't need our existing law enforcement officials chasing down neighbors, friends and co-workers in betting pools."

Since the Elks Lodge was in the District of State Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, he decided to introduce a bill to change the penal code.

Kevin Jeffries says "to knock it down to what would be the equivalent of parking ticket."

Jeffries says studies indicate that 50% of office workers participate in betting pools.

He says the state shouldn't waste its limited budget chasing them down.

And Jeffries hope to have his bill on the Governor's desk by late summer.

Kevin Jeffries says "Yeah, we do want to get it in time for next year's superbowl, that's for sure".

For now, he's suggesting that basketball fans enjoy the games and even a little wager, just as long as no one finds out.

And if you're participating in an office pool, and watching the game while at work, it's estimated that the loss of productivity during the three week tournament is nearly $2 billion.