While the Super Bowl isn’t an official holiday, there’s no doubt that millions of people take the day to celebrate a few elements of American life: professional sports and overconsumption. However, one app’s troubles at Super Bowl 50 shows another vice that could be slipping into the mix.
Fortune reported that the popular peer-to-peer payments app Venmo crashed shortly after the conclusion of the Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 7) night. Venmo confirmed that service was disrupted partially for all and entirely for some users just before 11 p.m., with things back to normal about two hours later. While Venmo didn’t comment on what caused the outage, Twitter became certain of the culprit, pointing to the simultaneous settling up of a nation’s worth of Super Bowl betting pools.
Without word from the payment platform provider, it might never be clear why the app crashed, but recent trends in betting and sports give the betting pool theory credence. Gambling is becoming a more acceptable complementary activity to live sporting events (re: the rise of fantasy sports culture), but the amount of money being thrown around is also extremely attractive to teams and leagues. According to Statista, the amount gambled on the Super Bowl has been increasing in recent years, with last year’s game drawing almost $116 million in online and in-person bets recorded by major sportsbooks. However, once all the unofficial office pools and friendly wagers are included, the number is likely even larger.
What does this all mean? Ideally for professional sports leagues and the team owners that run them, there’s another potential revenue stream out there waiting to be tapped. As prudishness over the effect of gambling on the integrity of the game fades, some clubs have been quick to embrace services and features that don’t condone but do make it easier for those who want to put some skin on the line.
At Super Bowl 50, though, that wasn’t Venmo.