Number of Online Women Sports Bettors on the Rise

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Number of Online Women Sports Bettors on the Rise

Before widespread online sports betting legalization, sports wagering was an activity predominantly seemingly for men. But that could be changing.

The classic sportsbook environment was never conducive to women. They were dark smoky areas with lighted odds boards with numbers flowing across the screen that only knowledgeable players could decipher, and they were almost always filled mostly with men who didn’t always share the most lighthearted demeanor as they stressed over their wagers.

“When I was younger, I used to go to the weekend sportsbook on the Strip, and it was horrible,” Siska Concannon, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Affiliated Sports Fans, said this week at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. 

“It was dark, there were all these angry men, and it was horrible … It certainly wasn’t a place for someone that wants to understand and learn and feel like they can be taken seriously. So, there’s also a cultural somewhat challenge for women. That’s why online, I believe strongly, that that’s going to win.”

Rise of Women in Sports Betting

According to Lauren Westerfield, Vice President, Online Gaming at Casino Queen, there are now 4.6 million active women sports bettors – an increase of 115% over the last year. 

Part of the rise is attributed to how companies are marketing to women. The panel at G2E, which also included Marissa Coleman, the VP of Business Development at Gaming Society and Meghan Chayka, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Stathletes, criticized lazy marketing towards women in the past, including pink jersey promotions and champagne packages.

“That’s not necessarily what you do to get women in the seats engaged,” Chayka said. “We see with the leagues now, more and more women are attending. They’re attending with other women friends; they're following their favorite teams and engaging on apps that are not quite as frictional to sign up.

"So I think what was this sports society that was not put a lot of money into, now it’s this emerging market where we’re having companies that are looking at the demographic and creating content, having analysts that speak to these smart, savvy, educated women fans … We’re seeing this demographic now being taken seriously, as it should be.”

Education a Key to Continued Growth

Concannon and Chyka agreed that operators should focus on educating women to make them feel comfortable when looking at a sportsbook app. 

Teaching women what spreads, totals and moneylines mean can play a pivotal part in making them feel welcome in this space, which has not always been the case.

Concannon has been involved in various retail and online gambling markets worldwide since 2014. Back then, the marketing messaging was predominantly aimed at white men. 

She asked why women or other minorities weren't represented in key decision-making positions that would represent those groups. Concannon was told variations of there are no women out there that wanted to get in this space.

“That was wrong then," she said. "And it’s wrong now."

This led to betting marketing campaigns centered around one demographic. This created a betting environment that was not hospitable towards women and led to them not feeling welcome in the wagering space. 

As a result, there was a void in the potential betting market. Men still outnumber women 5 to 2 in the betting space, but the marketing improvements from the gaming companies have resulted in increased betting activity from women.

“We still have a long way to go,” Concannon said. “But there’s a significant growth rate in women that is over double the growth rate last year that is compared to men. It’s a great story, but we certainly have a long way to go.

“I do think it’s a responsibility of the operators and the industry that supports it to be really, really aware of how we center and how we drive the message and how we build the products and how we support the industry.”

Bonus Abuse A Problem, Not A Contributor

A fair critique of the 115% growth in women’s sports bettors is that it results from bonus abuse. This could mean men signing up for accounts under the name of their wife or girlfriend and taking advantage of the free bets that come with registering with each online sportsbook.  

And while the panel did admit bonus abuse is a problem in the industry, it didn’t attribute it to the overwhelming growth of women in sports betting.

“At some point, you’re going to have already enrolled all your wives and girlfriends in every app, so how do you just dismiss the rest of the women's names that are in your database?” Chayka said. “Anyone that is watching actively as a woman that has a smartphone that can download an app in 10 seconds, you can convert them to a customer. If you don’t, you’re just lazy and a bad marketer."

Concannon noted that bonus abuse doesn’t extend to just women. It’s an industry issue, with plenty of first-time bettors taking advantage of a first-time promotion and then leaving the app.

“The reason why there are first-time bettors coming and leaving is to do the first-time promotions,” she said. “It does not have to do with a women’s propensity to bet, and it certainly does not have to do with the growth rate with women, either.

“I agree it’s dismissive, and I think it’s not looking at the data. I’ve looked at the data, and to Megan’s point, if you don’t know how to drive someone through the funnel and haven’t invested in the top funnel and given no thought how to personalize that experience through the funnel and understand based on this demographic, this channel, based on this first bet and deposit, that they have to have a different funnel. If you haven’t figured that out, then it’s kind of up to you. It’s not indicative of the market density for women to be relatively high revenue.”

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