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Venmo bans gambling—but that didn’t stop Super Bowl bets on the app

More than 65,000 likely illegal Super Bowl-related transactions were recorded.


Christina Bonnington


Posted on Feb 7, 2018   Updated on May 22, 2021, 1:44 am CDT

Peer-to-peer payment platform Venmo doesn’t allow gambling. However, that hasn’t stopped people from using the app to discreetly (or not so discreetly) settle their bets—particularly their Super Bowl bets.

The Outline used Venmo’s public API to peruse the app’s transactions that took place Sunday evening. It found that 44 percent of Sunday night’s Venmo payments included Super-Bowl-related verbiage and 14 percent straight-up referenced betting or gambling. There were about 837,100 total transactions that took place that night—139,500 Venmo payments per hour. And according to the Outline’s calculations, anywhere from 65,000 to 370,000 of those transactions were Super Bowl bet-related.

To get those numbers, the Outline’s Paris Martineau searched keywords such as “football” and “Super Bowl” and cross-referenced them with gambling-related phrases such as “bet,” “prop,” or “squares.”

The traffic on Venmo was high enough that evening that many complained about the slowness of the app. Others were laughing—or crying—over the bets they’ve got to settle now.

Beginning in 2015, a site called Vicemo has also used Venmo’s public API to aggregate public transactions involving vices like drugs, sex, or alcohol. It doesn’t collect gambling-related payments, though.

However, not all of these Super Bowl-related payments may have been about gambling. Some were legitimate, Venmo-approved transactions. Take for example this poor fellow who was surprised with a bill for his stake in a party he attended.

Hopefully not too many other Super Bowl partygoers experienced this particular predicament. The surprise Venmo request is decidedly not cool.

If you were among the potentially 369,999 other folks using Venmo to settle up your Super Bowl bets on Sunday evening, just remember: Gambling violates Venmo’s terms of use. So if you’re going to do it, make sure you’re not being obvious about it, or you may find your account closed or suspended.

H/T the Outline

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*First Published: Feb 7, 2018, 12:37 pm CST