Some San Francisco Public Utilities Commission employees and supervisors are subject of an ongoing investigation for supposedly misusing their work computers by engaging in online gambling (and distributing sexually explicit material).
Results of the investigation conducted by the City Attorney’s Office are nearing completion, but no word on the expected outcome has been forthcoming. SFPUC’s HR department and top executives are also assisting the investigation.
Although no official statement has been made about the possible punishment, it is no secret that the culprits could face losing their jobs over the issue.
In this regard the SFPUC’s policies correspond to common corporate policies, whereby use of a company’s infrastructure by its employees during working hours can by no means be considered the employees’ private matter.
The agency’s employee handbook explicitly states online gambling and viewing materials of sexual nature as examples of such prohibited activities.
The investigation started with a whistle-blower, Jue said. He said he could not comment on the exact number of workers being probed.
While American gambling laws seriously restrict online gaming, the prohibitions mainly affect operators, financial institutions and financial intermediaries used for transactions. Players themselves practically never face federal prosecution. In those states, however, where gambling of any kind is illegal, they may run into legal trouble.
The only exception is internet betting in the US, which is definitely illegal under federal statutes. The people involved in the case, however, were most likely playing online poker or slots, so due to the legal ambiguities they are highly unlikely to face criminal charges with regards to their gambling activities.
The case highlights the advantage of mobile casino gambling instead of using the PC. These people would probably not have got into trouble that way.