Increased Betting on Women’s Sports – A Positive or Negative? 

Sports Betting (Credit: Front Office Sports)

Women’s Sports Betting is on the Rise

From 2022 to today, we are seeing a significant rise globally in fans and gambling enthusiasts betting on women’s sports.  For example, let’s look at the WNBA’s Caitlin Clark & Angel Reese impact: Compared to the first 16 games of last season, the amount of WNBA bets over the first 16 games this season was up 415 percent on FanDuel.  As a result, sports betting apps like FanDuel and DraftKings say they are investing in women’s sports like never before, which seems to lean the outcome to a positive impact. 

Convenience of Betting

The emergence of internet gambling has revolutionized sports betting. Unlike in the past when it was primarily a cash business, you can now use dozens of different payment methods to place your sports wagers.  Additionally, you can place bets in multiple ways via your smartphone. For female bettors, this convenience of any time, anywhere betting has fueled an increase in those looking to be on their favorite sports teams. 


The recent viewing figures from women’s soccer have allowed many of the game’s stars to break into the mainstream. Female soccer players have long faced sexism and discrimination, in addition to being paid less than their male counterparts and often being told it’s because they don’t sell enough tickets or play in front of large enough crowds.

Many more eyes have turned to women’s sports betting since the 2022 European Championships in England, where sell-out crowds across multiple games brought in record numbers of viewers in person, and on television and streaming channels. 


The WNBA and women’s basketball have also experienced a spike in the number of people looking to play and watch. Notable players like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reece have become widely recognized. Some of the spikes are due to the accessibility facilitated by social media websites, YouTube, and detailed sports blogs posting highlight clips.

Women in sports bar cheering wearing NY Blue Jerseys and betting on the game
Women Sports Betting (Credit: GGB News)

Combat Sports 

Women’s combat sports have seen the sharpest rise in popularity around the rise of Laila Ali, Irish sporting superstar Katie Taylor, and the influence of MMA, where UFC star Ronda Rousey attracted a global fanbase. Their prominence has fueled an increase in both the number of people placing bets and paying close attention to female combat fights.

Does More Money Equal More Problems?

“People with money on a game are more likely to tune in and pay attention”, notes Val Martinez, founder of Betting Ladies, a sports betting “community for women.” In the world of sports, eyeballs tend to translate to money, and betting sites have a lot of the latter, with Goldman Sachs predicting that sports betting will become a $45 billion business “when the market is mature.” 

The cash being generated by sports leagues is bringing a groundswell of additional revenue, but what does this mean for the players?   “For the players, it’s just another stressor,” says Dr. Mark W. Aoyagi, PhD, co-director of sport and performance psychology at the University of Denver Graduate School of Professional Psychology. “In part, that is because sports betting may drive mistreatment of the people playing the game, especially on social media.” In fact, one in three high-profile athletes receive abusive messages online from people with “betting interests,” the NCAA said in a release last week.

Women athletes may already be more vulnerable to harassing messages than men. Research from the European Women’s Lobby found that women are 27 times more likely to face online harassment across continents, which we constantly see play out on social media, reality TV, and politics. The NCAA said recently that women’s basketball student-athletes receive about three times more threats than men’s basketball student-athletes.

FanDuel and DraftKings declined recently to share the gender demographics of their clients.  Let’s assume it’s a majority of men betting on women athletes, “there’s going to be a nuclear explosion of problems when you bring in the gender dynamics and misogyny,” Dr. Aoyagi says. “And it’s going to be messy.”  

One thing is for sure, in any form of betting, someone will win and someone will lose.  As the data continues to trend upward in the number of people globally betting on women’s sports, there will be a lot of analysis by mental health advocates, physicians, and sports journalists.   

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