What do you think—waste of money, or no? Fans of athletes and actors have been sending them small amounts of money on Venmo as a token of their appreciation or even as just a joke—but some are warning that it might be illegal and against Venmo’s terms of service for gambling payments and pay-for-play schemes.
There’s a weird new money trend popping up around the country: Venmo users are paying tips to athletes and celebrities through the app. The search function makes it easy to find a celebrity’s account, and then it’s just a few taps to payment. Most transactions are only for a few cents—a number of users have send John Graham from The Bachelor two cents—but some reach up several dollars, like the $8 Venmo user Frederico Prian sent Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky after every win.
And though the payments are meant to be a silly joke or a tip, some lawyers are warning that it might be considered gambling or pay-for-performance and could actually violate Venmo’s rules.
“Sending money through Venmo for gambling purposes is most likely illegal on a state-by-state basis and also violates Venmo’s terms of service,” Jeremy Evans, managing attorney at law firm California Sports Lawyer, told CNBC. “We can take that a step further and say that such payment for performance, if not necessarily gambling, most certainly violates the regulations of the various players associations and professional sports leagues as to impropriety and pay for performance schemes.”
Even if the payments are considered a gift, Evans told CNBC, that could still come with legal ramifications.