With women’s sports on the rise, sports betting increasingly attracting females

March 31, 2024 5:45 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports
March 31, 2024 5:45 PM
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports

When Betting Ladies debuted at the 2023 SBC Summit North America, founder Val Martinez was literally working from the ground up. The website, which promotes and covers all things related to women’s sports betting, didn’t have a huge staff or plush offices.

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Val Martinez, Betting Ladies

“We launched from my garage,” says Martinez.

Almost a year after it went public, Betting Ladies is now a valuable source of information for women interested in sports betting. There are tips for beginners, betting analysis for seasoned bettors, interviews with leading women in the field, and sportsbook reviews.

The site is also a way for Martinez to combat the notion that sports betting is solely the province of men. She cites statistics, including that there were 4.6 million female sports bettors in 2022 and that 51% of the bets placed on the most recent Super Bowl were by women.

“There is an increase, and I see the trend growing,” Martinez says. “The perception that it’s a male thing, we’re here to change that because that’s not true.”

Martinez’s website is one of the many indicators that women are emerging as a solid presence in sports betting. Companies invested in the market are increasingly seeking to engage and involve women.

“Simply put, women are sports fans too. We know that women are just as passionate about their favorite players and teams as men are, and they have a unique perspective on sports that can help influence the future of our industry,” said FanDuel Vice President of Brand Strategy Jen Matthews via email. “As sports betting becomes legal in more states, we will see more and more women betting as it is easier to do and there is a lot more education available to give both men and women the tools to help them bet responsibly.”

In a statement to CDC Gaming Reports, DraftKings wrote, “The sports betting industry is experiencing a shift towards greater gender diversity, and we’re also noticing an uptick in women engaging with our products. DraftKings’ values and diverse perspectives spur innovation, challenge the status quo, and drive us to continually evolve. We believe that by embracing different viewpoints and backgrounds, we unlock new ideas and approaches that propel us forward in the ever-changing landscape of sports betting.”

Kelly Brooks was one of the first women to get involved in the sports betting space in North America. Based in Toronto, Ontario, in 2019 Brooks founded Quarter4, a B2B sports betting and gaming technology company deploying artificial intelligence to provide advanced insights for professional and college sports. Notably Quarter4 was one of the few sites featuring information for women’s leagues and sports.

“I think we were such anomalies that we were almost like an experiment,” Brooks says. “We got calls, we got discussions happening because in 2019 there were no other Canadian women running an AI technology platform for sports betting businesses. If anything, that uniqueness actually got us through the doors.”

Brooks notes that “women in general, across all industries “only get three percent of venture capital because of the makeup of the investor population.” But a bigger issue came from trying to solicit funding from women who, in many cases, have preconceived notions about the gaming industry.

“They see it as taboo,” Brooks says. “If you go to a woman’s fund and say we’re here, we’re revenue generating, they love us, they’ll say `we don’t touch gambling or betting. Sorry, it’s just not in our wheelhouse.’ When you’re a woman in this space, I think from an investment standpoint, it’s very tricky.”

Quarter4 eventually found a foothold and in January 2024, was acquired by FairPlay Sports Media.

“I think it’s an amazing place to land,” Brooks says, noting that she’s now the company’s chief technology officer and that her Quater4 business partner, Danijela Covic, is also a part of FairPlay’s leadership team. “The CEO (Stuart Simms) is very progressive, very forward-thinking, and wants as many diverse views on his leadership team as possible.”

For a sport to gain traction in the sports betting market, it needs interest from both hardcore and casual bettors. There’s no bigger draw at sportsbooks than on the fall Saturdays featuring college football games, and Sunday’s chock full of NFL contests. The men’s NCAA basketball tournament also draws huge interest from bettors.

Wagering on women’s sports has lagged until recently. The emergence of the University of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has served as a catalyst for the current NCAA tournament and beyond.

Clark is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the forthcoming WNBA draft on April 15. The Indiana Fever holds the top pick and is expected to select Clark.,

“I can tell you that Caitlin Clark is already having an impact on next season,” Matthews says. “There are currently more bets on the Fever to win the championship than any other team on our platform and she is the favorite among bettors to win the MVP with 92% of the handle. This tells us that all fans are interested in the WNBA and are embracing it as something they want to watch and wager on.  The best part is more men are betting on women’s sports too and we know this by the activity on our platform.”

Matthews cites other indicators that more women are interested in sports betting. In 2022, FanDuel had only seven WNBA games with handles of more than $1 million. Last year, that total soared to 66 games with million-dollar handles and three games with over $2 million handles.

Through FanDuel TV programs “Up & Adams” with Kay Adams and Michelle Beadle’s “Run it Back,” Matthews says the company is creating “an inclusive environment that is user-friendly for anyone.”

“As of October 2023, we had activated more women than we did in all of 2022,” Matthews adds.

DraftKings also noted the emergence of women’s collegiate sports and pointed out other crossover events, specifically  Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty dueling with Golden State’s Stephen Curry in the three-point competition during the NBA’s All-Star weekend. According to the company, this exposure not only showcases “the incredible talent and athleticism of female athletes,” but also creates new opportunities for engagement and betting.

“On DraftKings, Caitlin Clark and other notable female stars have led to a 14x increase in handle and 13x increase in bets year-over-year for women’s college basketball,” DraftKings stated. “The rise of female athletes as household names contributes to a broader cultural shift towards recognizing and valuing women’s sports and sports betting could serve as an equalizer for women’s sports across the board with both men and women customers.”

Martinez published a book, Betting Ladies: What Women Want in Sports Betting, that includes interviews with women who were asked what they wanted to see in the sports betting space. The answers included a need for less intimidating spaces to be and places where women felt like they belonged.

But what has surprised Martinez the most is how more women are seeking out information and opportunities to wager on sports. In addition to information on its website, Betting Ladies is filling that gap through educational videos and live events.

“It’s been a bit overwhelming,” Martinez says. “I didn’t expect it to be so big. The reception has been great, both from the operator’s side and the women’s side, where they finally have a space where they can ask questions and not be worried about the consequences.”