Women Are Key To The Sports Betting Industry

By Rhonda Bird

Gambling – a debaucherous, drunken past-time traditionally reserved for men. That’s how it was seen for centuries. However, times have completely changed. States can legalize sports betting if they choose after the US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on single-game wagering in 2018. To date, whether via mobile apps or in-person sportsbooks, nearly two-thirds of the United States has approved some form of legal sports wagering, and women want to get in on the action.

More than 4.6 million women joined sports betting apps in the U.S. last year—a 115% increase in the number of women users compared to 2020, according to a report by Global Wireless Solutions. GWS found that FanDuel brought in an estimated 1.7 million female customers last year. CEO Amy Howe, one of only a few female chief executives, has done an exceptional job of persuading women to participate in sports betting, which is brilliant.

“Tired of never being invited to play fantasy football? We were too.” One of FanDuel’s very clever ads in collaboration with The Gist, a newsletter that provides sports content and experiences appealing to their audience of female sports fans. FanDuel saw an opening and they have made their app the safe place for women to bet. Women make up almost half of U.S. sports fans, but they represent less than one-third of sports bettors. Howe says FanDuel sees a “huge opportunity” and the company has been actively attempting to appeal to women.

Brendan Bussmann, the managing partner of B Global says “We know women watch football, basketball and everything in between and the legalization of sports betting has helped extend that form of entertainment to them.” Sports wagering companies are evolving their strategy in the hopes of expanding their customer base. Reaching women is a big part of that strategy. “It’s all about market-share grab at this point and wherever these operators see a niche, they’re going after it,” he says.

Kelly Stewart, a sports handicapper and vice president and co-owner of WagerTalk, says women are key to the expansion of the sports betting industry. Since the industry has evolved from in-person betting at casinos to mobile apps, women are signing up in big numbers. Stewart says that wagering on a mobile app is less intimidating and more private, which appeals to many women. When a woman asks her boyfriend, father or husband, those men can get annoyed and grow impatient, especially if they are in the middle of watching a game. You don’t need to ask anyone when betting on a mobile app, and if you have a question, you can just google it or youtube it and find an answer.

Stewart says she has seen a huge shift. At WagerTalk, 18% of their visitors are women, accounting for 11% of the company’s revenue for the current year to date. During the same time frame in 2019, 9% of the website’s visitors were women and only 2% of revenue came from this demographic.

Even big stars are getting in on the action, which will attract more females. Nicki Minaj, a life-long sports fanatic and arguably the most successful female rapper in the history of music, hopes to use her broad appeal to bring new customers to MaximBet. Minaj will be global ambassador, special advisor, and investor of MaximBet. MaximBet believes it has a customer acquisition plan by way of Minaj and female players.

The Carousel Group, a Maryland-based sports betting and iGaming operator, owns and runs MaximBet through a partnership with the Maxim magazine brand. Carousel says Minaj has already “categorically disrupted the male-dominated industry of rap music,” and will do the same in the male-dominated sports betting industry. MaximBet and Minaj believe together they can help level the gender playing field.

Minaj will also appeal to Gen Zers and Millennials, who are the most active of female bettors, with 27% and 28%, respectively, betting at least once a month, according to a Hot Paper Lantern study. Older female participants overwhelmingly only wager during major sporting events like the Super Bowl, March Madness or the Kentucky Derby. While women on the whole don’t necessarily bet with the same frequency that their male counterparts do, the potential is there.

Mobile sports betting companies who have not gotten into the female game are missing a massive opportunity for an industry that’s moving very quickly. And women, if you haven’t gotten into the game, it might be time. An online bookmaker in New Jersey, 888sport, showed its female bettors typically won more bets and made more money than their male peers. The findings suggested a more strategic—and perhaps less emotional—approach to sports betting for women. It goes back to the old saying, don’t bet with your heart, and generally speaking, many men have decade-long allegiances to certain teams.

Photo Credit: Motortion Films

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