Betting on women: Sports gambling app industry excited by growth of female users

The amount of women engaged in sports gambling has increased dramatically. Although some of it is in casino, more than 4.6 million U.S. women joined sports betting apps in 2021. (Photo by Wesley Johnson/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – The image of a typical sports gambler is ever-changing. What was once a man in a smoky casino now includes a woman looking at point spreads on her smartphone.

More than 4.6 million U.S. women joined sportsbook betting apps in 2021, with female user rates growing 115% compared to 2020, according to data analysis company GWS.

Though the number of male users still exceeds female by 250%, the rate of men using sportsbook betting apps grew by 63% in the same time period.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there’s more growth among women just because, historically, there have been fewer women who wagered on sports, so now that they have access to that, it’s natural that the percentage growth is going to be higher than men because the male market was more mature,” said Mike Seely, a sports betting journalist for SportsHandle who has written about the growth.

Some sportsbooks have shown so much success in attracting new female users that they have a higher proportion of women than men in its user base.

Sports betting apps have made gambling accessible, which is part of the reason more women are participating. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

BetRivers, along with its associated New Jersey outlet SugarHouse, saw approximately 600,000 women sign up in 2021, compared to just under 380,000 men.

But, it was FanDuel who brought in more new U.S. female users in 2021 than any other sportsbook gambling company, with an estimated 1.7 million women joining since the previous year, GWS reported.

FanDuel Sportsbook at Footprint Center, home of the Suns and Mercury, opened up last year when sports betting was legalized in Arizona. It’s a place where sports bettors can go to place bets, watch games and buy a drink.

Noah Kirk, the general manager of FanDuel Sportsbook at Footprint Center, has seen an uptick in women at his site.

“We see more and more female customers almost everyday,” he said. “It seems to be growing in popularity with the female demographic.”

This growth isn’t just exclusive to women, as 2021 was the biggest year for sports betting in general, and growth from 2020.

“Five years ago, you wouldn’t have seen guys talk about odds, over/unders and spreads on the air,” Seely said. “Now, not only are you seeing that, you’re seeing dedicated sidebar shows by major networks that exclusively deal with sports betting and on those major networks during telecasts, you’re seeing live in-game odds flashed across the bottom of the screen. I mean, that would have been unthinkable not just five years ago, but even a couple years ago.”

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With increased popularity comes greater accessibility, and with incentives such as referral bonuses, it’s no surprise women are joining at such a high rate.

“A lot of women enjoy sports just as much as men,” Kirk said. “It’s just teaching new customers and not just necessarily women, whether it be the older population as well, how will they interact with the newer way of sports betting. It’s not the guy at the bar. We have a high tech product here and that takes some getting used to.”

Lisa Diaz, a sports betting personality and CEO of sports betting company “BettingInHeels” is encouraged by what she sees.

“I just think it’s big for us,” said Diaz, also known as “Lady D.” “We can actually step into a male dominant world now that sports betting is everywhere.”

Alex Amado A-leks uh-MAH-doh
Sports Broadcast Reporter, Phoenix

Alex Amado expects to graduate in August 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Amado prides himself on his ability to tell a story through his script writing and camera work.

Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Wesley Johnson expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Johnson, who has interned as a digital editor and social media manager at Arizona PBS, is working for the Phoenix sports bureau.