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The Relationship Between Women and Sports Betting

Historically, women in sports betting has been an untapped market in the industry. That is not to say that women never tried their luck at the table. In mid-19th century US, some notorious poker queens made their way through saloons winning bundles. Alice Ivers Tubbs, better known as “Poker Alice,” was infamous for carrying a revolver to protect herself after clearing tables for winnings and was renowned for being able to count cards and calculate the odds of a game very quickly. Lottie Deno gained notoriety in the Wild West for her poker playing skills, traveling all over Texas. As one of the first females to be truly recognized for her skills, she is said to have set the stage for future female players. That has also translated over to online casino gaming, where women make up a considerable portion of the playerbase.

However, skills at table games aside, women have never truly been renowned for their love of sports betting…until now. Studies conducted by marketing agency Hot Paper Lantern found that more than one-third of bettors in the US are women. This was then backed up by data from the American Gaming Association which found that in 2019 32% of past-year sports bettors were women. In fact, there are even indications that women are seeing better returns from their wagers. A 2020 study found that women saw a 19.79% return on investment on their bets, whereas men saw a 4.6% loss.

Further to these findings, the HPL study found that female bettors also value events that have greater social implications. This means that something like betting on the NBA playoffs is likely to capture their attention along with events such as the Kentucky derby and the Super Bowl. 

It appears that the industry is finally becoming latrine to this information and are now including the female market in their ethos. In a 2020 interview with SBC Americas Vice President Sue Schneider, Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports, said, “There’s no reason that you can’t ignite betting amongst women, but you have to do it the right way. It has to be compelling and honest. There are a lot of things that are esoteric and insular about betting, factors which need to be made digestible so people can have fun.

“When you look at the casual bettor, you think about sports fans, I think about women.”

The reason we are seeing such an influx of the female demographic in sports betting can be put down to a number of variables.

Mobile betting

As the number of sportsbooks with their own mobile app has increased so has their userbase. It has never been easier to place a bet, simply download the sportsbook of your choice, create your account and you are free to deposit and wager on hundreds of different sports and leagues. Women are likely to prefer this method as high street bookmakers have been largely frequented by men. The ability to bet from their own home or on the go makes for a more comfortable place to wager. With recent legislation legalizing online betting across tens of states and even more to come, we are likely to see the number of women using betting apps increase even more.

Rise in popularity of women’s sport

Women’s sports have never truly had a fair shake of the whip, but that seems to be changing. As funding has increased in some of the most major sports, so has their fanbase. In 2021, the WNBA finals tv ratings were up by 42%. The most recent women’s Soccer World Cup Final also had a 22% higher viewership than the men’s final, in the US. Added to the fact that the likes of Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey and Simone Biles are some of the most famous athletes in their field regardless of gender, women’s sport has truly been bought to the forefront in recent years. As a result of this, women bettors may be drawn to the excitement of wagering on these games rather than male dominated sports.

Changing gender roles

The overarching reason for all of the aforementioned statistics is relatively simple; gender norms and roles have finally started to be broken down for the better. Previously, women were discouraged from both watching and partaking in sports as it was not ‘ladylike’. However, those patriarchal views and behaviours are slowly but surely being unlearnt. As a result, the wider world of sports, which is extended to sports betting, is more inclusive and accessible for women.

The landscape of sports betting in 2022 and beyond is very exciting. As more states begin to legalize online betting and the demand increases, we can expect an even more exhilarating experience. We can also expect the female player base to increase even more and long may their success continue.

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