Monday, May 20, 2024
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The Rise of Women’s Sports: A Winning Bet for the Sports Betting Industry

The sports betting industry has traditionally been dominated by men’s sports. However, the recent surge in popularity and viewership of women’s sports is reshaping the landscape. This shift presents an untapped opportunity for the sports betting industry. In this article, we’ll explore how women’s sports are benefiting the sports betting industry.

The Growing Popularity of Women’s Sports

Women’s sports have seen a significant increase in viewership and participation in recent years. For instance, games involving Caitlin Clark’s Iowa team were the most bet-on women’s events ever. This surge in interest is not limited to basketball but extends to other women’s sports, including soccer and hockey.

Impact on the Sports Betting Industry

The rise in popularity of women’s sports has led to a corresponding increase in betting activity. In 2019, just over 300,000 legal bets were made on women’s soccer; by 2022, this number had reached 700,000. Similarly, the WNBA reported a 270% increase in the number of bets made in 2022 over the 2021 season.

The Untapped Market

Interestingly, the growth in sports betting is not only driven by men. A study by Global Wireless Solutions found that women are signing up for mobile sports betting apps at a much higher rate than men. In the US, over 4.6 million women signed up for mobile sports betting apps in the past year, an increase of 115% from 2020. This indicates that women represent a significant and growing market for sports betting.

The Caitlin Clark Phenomenon

One of the most significant recent developments in women’s sports betting is the rise of basketball star Caitlin Clark. Clark’s games with the Hawkeyes were the most bet-on women’s events ever. Her professional debut with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever generated record-breaking levels of viewership and wagering on the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. This shows that individual athletes’ performances can significantly influence betting trends in women’s sports.

Women’s Sports Betting: A Historical Perspective

The history of gambling on women’s sports starts with the history of women’s sports — which have been around for as long as women have. Sports betting, too, has been around nearly forever. Gambling legality waxes and wanes, but wagering on athletic competitions has likely been around as long as competition itself.

Ironically, one of the first efforts to formally recognize women’s sports in the United States was also an effort to keep women from gambling. In the mid-1800s, a group of women educators wanted their women students to be able to play sports while being shielded from the “corruption” of men’s sports. What kind of corruption? Gambling, of course!

Fast-forward to 1972. The US enacts Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for any educational programs or activities that receive funding from the federal government.  While the law mentions nothing about athletics, Title IX has become synonymous with gender equity in sports.

On the sports betting side, things were going in a different direction. Congress enacted the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992, which banned single-game wagering everywhere except for Nevada. That lasted, with a few exceptions, until 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck it down, and the modern era of legal sports betting began.

Now, in 2024, both sports betting and women’s sports are exploding in popularity.  Since 2018, 38 states have legalized sports betting in some form, including 29 that allow online betting.  In Feb. 2022, the US Women’s National Soccer Team won a $24 million settlement and a pledge from the US Soccer Federation to equalize pay between men’s and women’s teams.

This historical perspective shows that the rise of women’s sports betting is not a sudden phenomenon, but the result of a long and complex history. As we look to the future, the continued growth and popularity of women’s sports, coupled with the expansion of legal sports betting, suggest that betting on women’s sports will continue to grow. This growth represents a significant opportunity for the sports betting industry.

The Future of Women’s Sports Betting

As we’ve seen, the rise of women’s sports is a winning bet for the sports betting industry. The dramatic growth of women’s sports is a hugely positive development for fans, the sports, and athletes themselves, and also for the betting market. It not only diversifies the market but also opens up new opportunities for growth. As women’s sports continue to gain popularity, the sports betting industry stands to benefit significantly.

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