Women’s sports betting, and with it sponsorships, are entering a new era in the United States in terms of visibility. Just like for their counterpart men’s leagues and teams, gambling companies are a part of that rise.
Both the LPGA and the WNBA have recently announced new partnerships with prominent online sports betting brands. The result may be a flurry of such deals in the coming months for athletes and franchises in relevant jurisdictions.
New women’s sports betting sponsorships
Prominent sponsors of women’s sports enterprises that aren’t part of the gambling include:
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
The gambling sector isn’t on the sidelines amidst this trend.
Just ahead of the Pure Silk Championship in Virginia, BetMGM Sportsbook announced its new collaboration with the LPGA. BetMGM becomes an official betting operator of the tour. In exchange, the sports betting app will feature a wider menu of betting options on the tour’s events.
While these deals may represent a new level of visibility for such partnerships, they aren’t the first intersections between gambling companies and women’s sports enterprises.
Sportsbooks have been in on women’s sports already
As a matter of fact, the Mohegan Tribe, which operates several digital and retail gambling properties across the country, owns the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun. Other past and present connections have included:
- DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook acting as primary jersey sponsors of the WNBA’s New York Liberty
- The WNBA made MGM Resorts an official gaming partner in 2018. Also, MGM owned the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces from 2017 until late last year when it sold the team to Mark Davis
- William Hill Sportsbook operates a sportsbook at The Entertainment and Sports Arena, home to the WNBA’s Washington Mystics
- Plans are in the works for a FanDuel book at Phoenix Suns Arena, which the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury call home
- Several state lotteries sponsor teams in their jurisdictions, for example, the Minnesota Lottery is a sponsor of the Minnesota Whitecaps
The general manager of those Metropolitan Riveters, Anya Packer, would like to see the National Women’s Hockey League build on what her organization has done with the NJ Lottery. Specifically, Packer sees it as an engagement tool.
Women’s sports betting partnerships produce results
“A league-wide sports betting platform deal would absolutely increase the height and success of the NWHL,” Packer stated. “From more complex data and analysis of our product to high stakes fan bases coming in with real equity in a team’s success, sports betting manufactures a lot of entertainment value. If it is a fun product with the ability for us to monetize it, that will continue to grow our ratings and the fandom.”
Packer isn’t the only person in a similar position who views gambling partnerships that way.
“Innovating at the WNBA and enhancing the fan experience starts with recognizing how our fans want to interact with the players, teams, and the league, and PointsBet will enhance a second screen experience that digitally engaged fans are looking for,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “We’re excited to partner with PointsBet to continue expanding in the sports betting space and look forward to the innovative ideas they will bring to our game.”
The National Women’s Soccer League and Women’s Tennis Association still lack partnerships of this kind on a broad level, though bettors can regularly find their events booked across the country for betting. Such deals could be forthcoming, effectively closing the book on sponsorships at that level on women’s sports in North America.
That means opportunities for further synergy between gambling and women’s sports will be more localized and targeted moving forward.
What about athletes and individual teams?
Even after the NWSL and WTA start adding gambling partners, there will still be plenty of opportunities for the growth of these sponsorships. As gaming is regulated by individual jurisdictions, local partnerships could have advantages.
Take the aforementioned Riveters, for example. The club normally plays its home games at ProSkate Ice Arena in Monmouth, NJ. Could there someday be a branded betting lounge and other activations for gambling partners during Riveters games? It seems it would be folly to bet against it.
“Sports betting will bring an incredible presence for women’s hockey,” Packer commented. “It is a great way to build vested interest in sports, and we have seen that growth and rise in the WNBA. A sports betting deal in NJ would be an outstanding sign of investment and sustainability for the Riveters. It would prove the entertainment value is investable and scalable.”
Partnerships with individual athletes could bring similar value for golf, MMA, motorsports, and tennis engagement. Such women are more visible now than ever in US media, making this the time to strike for gambling companies.
Women’s sports enterprises see the value in women’s sports betting partnerships and that is a reciprocal phenomenon. Fans should prepare themselves for a lot more of these announcements in the near future.