Advertising a website just got a whole lot cheaper. A new trend has emerged in Washington, where an entrepreneur has begun offering bums food and small amounts of money, in exchange for them advertising his poker match up site.

The bastard behind the scheme is Ben Rogovy, a 22 year old aspiring capitalist trying to cheaply promote his new poker match up website. According to, Rogovy’s website outlining the campaign – he’s merely tapping into using wasted homeless labor.

“Bums use a business model that takes advantage of high volume traffic, with the expectation that, on average, a certain number of people will donate to them in the form of cash, clothing, or food, writes Rogovy in his 3rd person description of the bumverting business model.

According the Rogovy, the bums like the easy extra cash and food. And I really do believe it. Local Seattle news reports accuse the advertising campaign as “exploiting and “humiliating panhandlers – which is probably true. But that’s a moot point.

Rogovy is buying labor off of people who, every day, openly humiliate and degrade themselves by begging and digging through garbage. I have a hard time believing that hanging an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper from their tattered pieces of cardboard is going to make matters worse for them.

But that’s not my concern. Homelessness needs to be eradicated with social programs, government assistance, and other forms of economic improvement. To reward a panhandling lifestyle – which hurts business and creates crime – is a completely wrong step, and is socially irresponsible. The only good that can come out of this is the attention the media will give to the problem of homelessness and inner-city poverty that our government has recklessly ignored.

But has it worked?

Not really. The poker site that Rogovy is advertising for doesn’t appear to be doing very well, even with all the media attention. Even with a web form for advertising inquiries on the site, the only ads I found were AdSense ads – which leads me to believe that he’s not exactly selling many of his own advertisements.

And Alexa ranks the site at over two million, an indication that there’s virtually no traffic hitting the site. However, Rogovy may be known for quite some time as the kid who started, (and trademarked) bumvertising.

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why call him a bastard?
He gives the homeless some money in exchange for them doing what they do anyway: walking around town aimlessly all day.

"Homelessness needs to be eradicated with social programs, government assistance, and other forms of economic improvement"

No, they need to be eradicated by giving them jobs (which will typically have to be minimum wage menial labour as most have no education at all) and by making sure there's affordable housing in urban areas (right now there's not, people end up on the street because rental rates for even small apartments and houses are now so high many can no longer afford them). There's tons of social programs, they don't work...
Another reason people end up on the streets (besides loosing jobs and refusing to work menial jobs) is drugs. People loose their lifelihood to drugs gangs, loose their jobs, loose their house, and end up on the street. Take away the drugs and you take away a lot of the homeless problem (as well as a lot of crime).

Homeless people are indeed a social problem, but government intervention doesn't work.
It perpetuates these people in their status by providing them services which depend on the existence of that status.
As soon as they somehow get a job, get a house, maybe get an education, that assistance stops taking away any incentive of thriving to get that job (it's very easy to make sure you're never hired, so making applying for jobs mandatory to stay in the program doesn't work).

What the government might be able to do is provide educational programs and temporary housing (using a strict timeframe, for example they can't stay in for more than a year) for homeless people that DO get a job. They might even provide some of those jobs (governments do many things that are effectively unskilled labour, like streetsweepers and parking attendants) as an incentive.
But they shouldn't just pump money into homeless shelters and care programs.

Of course it could be predicted that this particular program would backfire. People seeing a homeless guy advertising for a casino will make the connection between gambling and poverty (gamble and you loose your house...), but the idea of giving day jobs to homeless people (which eventually might lift them out of their situation) by the private sector is a good one.

This is not only offensive, but fucking stupid as an advertising campaign. I wonder what this guy was smoking when he came up with this. Probobly watched "Bumb Fights" one to many times.

First, this is morally reprehensible. He apparently has created an elaborate explanation about how this actually helps the homeless, but all one has to do to realize how full of shit he is is to look at the photo gallary on his website. One sign reads, "single dad. Part time income with 2 boys. Need help with food and rent."

Also this is just fucking stupid as a marketing move. What a great way to advertise a GAMBLING website. Show people what they could become if they lose all their money playing poker. Way to go idiot.

Great article, Danny. Well written to the point of being the best article about this item of news I've read.

jwenting --

These people need to get jobs, I agree with you on that. But clearly for whatever reason, they haven't been able to, or the jobs they do have aren't enough to keep them off the streets.

Giving people food and money to be homeless is a terrible idea, and only perpetuates this problem. If the money that a "bum" receives from this program is enough to get him off the street, then the program fails, because the bum is no longer advertising for the company. At that point, there is a real incentive to remain a "bum" -- or at least act like one.

Social and governmental programs such as tools for finding work, for housing and educating homeless people, and for drug rehab, need to be implemented at a further degree, like my original post said.

I don't condone handing out free money to homeless people, as you seem to imply.

I only pointed out the net effect of (most) government programs aimed at homeless people (or people in need in general).
The setback in the situation of the person benefitting from the program once they no longer qualify is often so great that it makes perfect sense for that person to make no effort to get out of the program.

As an example we've had government sponsored jobs here for years now.
Companies got to hire long term unemployed people who'd keep their unemployment benefits and the company would pay the rest of their salary up to at least minimal wages.
Cheap labour, and a chance for that unemployed person to get a job.
There was a time limit of course, with the sponsorship lasting at most something like 2 years (in order to avoid abuse no doubt).
It failed misserably. A few people got a job as night cleaners or other essentially unskilled labour at minimal wages, but less than a percent of those were able to get a non-sponsored job after the sponsorship period ran out. It was cheaper to just hire another sponsored unemployed person after all...
Same with programs for homeless. Provide them free shelter and food (which happens a lot, and can be a good thing if linked to conditions like having to be clean of drugs and having no criminal record, stick and carrot...) and there may be no reason for them to try and lift themselves out of their situation.

I think this is a great way to provide homeless people with a reward scheme that can increase their standard of living.

Great IDEA this helps you the businessman and to homeless person

Businessman Gets Cheap advertisng resulting in traffic to the businessmans website.

Homelessman Makes Some extra MONEY is able to by more food, clothes or what every the homeless man wants with the money.

Easy as that Everyone gets what they want.

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