How Are US Sports Betting Operators Appealing To Women Bettors?

Written By Brad Allen on April 28, 2022
women bettors

Women are becoming sports bettors in the US in record numbers, according to new data gleaned from smartphones.

More than 4.6 million women joined US sports betting apps in 2021, according to mobile insights firm Global Wireless Solutions (GWS.)

Those 4.6 million signups reflect a 115% increase year-on-year. For comparison, 7.5 million men joined sportsbook apps in the same period, up 63% year-on-year.

How the study worked

The estimates were extrapolated from nearly 200,000 smartphones across the US.

GWS said the phones surveyed were distributed across betting and non-betting states to accurately reflect the national picture.

It is also worth noting that app downloads do not necessarily equal betting. Women bettors were generally less active than their male counterparts, GWS said.

Who signed up the most female bettors?

FanDuel Sportsbook attracted the most new female users in 2021 per the study, with an estimated 1.7 million sign-ups over the year. DraftKings was second with an estimated 900,000 new female users. 

Those numbers may reflect a deliberate strategy from FanDuel. CEO Amy Howe said before the Super Bowl that women bettors were a “huge opportunity” for the company.

Howe said women made up 50% of sports fans but less than a third of sportsbook users.

“This is a big priority for us,” Howe said. “There s a lot we’re doing to really try own this.”

How is FanDuel going after women bettors?

That includes more sponsorship of women’s sports, including the WNBA and women’s tennis.

Likewise, just last week FanDuel sponsored female boxer Amanda Serrano for her  world title fight at Madison Square Garden on April 30.

I think it starts with supporting female athletes,” Howe said. “As for the consumer, we’ve done some great things to try and make sports betting less intimidating to female consumers. There’s lots more runway there, and a really exciting untapped opportunity.”

Work to be done to appeal to women bettors

Scarlet Robinson, a gaming industry advisor at Wildcat Advisory, suggested operators were smart to appeal to female bettors but could do a better job.

“It is only smart to focus on expanding market share where others are not even paying attention,” Robinson said. “And it helps with image around diversity, especially when states like MD and VA want to see it demonstrated by licensed operators.

“But it’s not as if there are ready-made sports betting communities for women going into this. I mean look at some of the brand names; DraftKings, Barstool, MaximBet and SI. So, I expect it would take some time to build up.”

Messaging is important

Industry consultant Brianne Doura Schawohl suggested the industry could also appeal to women by changing the tone of advertising and presenting women in a “less sexualized way.”

She identified FanDuel as the most female-friendly brand in the market at present.

“They clearly get input from women on their product. You want to attract female bettors? Get a woman’s input,” Doura Schawohl said.

What else did we learn from GWS?

The GWS research also reiterated some long-held truths about the betting industry.

For one, it is reliant on a small number of power users for a big chunk of revenue.

Per GWS, the “vast majority” of gamblers use the apps intermittently. Two-thirds engage with them for no more than five weeks across the year. Meanwhile, the top 5% of users make up over half of all app usage. 

Everyone’s a winner, baby

Elsewhere, users also had an inflated sense of their own sports betting skill.

Across a survey of 663 US gamblers, 29% of bettors said they won more than they lost. That was the exact same percentage that said they lost more than they won.

Either bettors are lying to themselves or to the surveys — or maybe the sports betting industry really is doomed.

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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