Can Gambling Generate a Figger Fandom for Women’s Sports?

Since the legalization of sports gambling in 2018, the fandom in sports has sky-rocketed. More and more people are using sports betting to further socialize while watching sports, because who doesn’t love the adrenaline you feel moments before your bet is on the line and the relief afterwards if you win? Gambling in women’s sports could be used to promote women’s sports and close the inequality we see today within women and men’s sports. Sports betting generates billions of dollars every year and according to ESPN as over 70 million people will fill out a bracket for the Men’s March Madness. However, women’s sports always seem to get their deserved media coverage cut short.  

APTOPIX P12 Oregon Stanford Basketball
University of Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament (Source: AP Photo/John Locher)

As researchers continue to document gender equality in sport, one may argue gambling and fantasy sports can help narrow the gap within men and women in sport. Many women athletes and women’s professional leagues aren’t getting the marketing publicity they need. Leagues and networks such as ESPN and Fox News believe these betting activities highly contribute to the fan experience and engagement. This is very important during a pandemic and may be the reason why sports are surviving without the maximum revenue in ticket sales. Clearly, gambling has become a valuable strategy to keep existing fans and even develop new ones. Could it do the same for women’s leagues? Consider the high level of participation for men’s fantasy leagues and betting. Would an increased promotion of fantasy leagues and gambling in women’s professional sports leagues close the gap we see today?  

Eric Knight 

Featured image: Gambler at Bally’s casino in Atlantic city, NJ (Source: AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

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