One in 10 American women bet on sports. Among those gambling girls, the Super Bowl is the biggest event.
It’s no secret that women gamble in large numbers these days. Bingo halls have always been the domain of (mostly middle-aged and elderly) women, but members of the female gender are now participating heavily in other forms of gambling.
• Roughly $10 billion bet on Super Bowl annually
• Vegas sportsbooks took in a record $116 million in bets on 2014’s Super Bowl XLVIII
• One in 10 women in America report betting on sports
Female professionals have broken ground in the field of poker, with pros Vanessa Selbst, Annie Duke, and Vanessa Russo each featuring on money leaderboards. Studies have shown that the majority of revenue earned by online casinos in the UK comes from female visitors.
A niche that hasn’t received much attention is sports betting. In the UK the betting industry is still associated with smoky, testosterone-fueled high street betting shops, and in America betting on sports is a heavily restricted activity.
There is one sporting event, however, that is getting more female interest all the time. That is the Super Bowl. America’s national holiday has long been watched by a large portion of the country’s female population (if you live in America you simply can’t avoid it), but now it’s being bet on heavily as well.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University, one in 10 American women said they bet on sports in 2012. For many of them, that meant the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl betting is on the rise in general
Women are betting on the big game in larger numbers than ever. One reason why, is that Americans of both genders are betting more than ever. The amount of money wagered in Las Vegas sportsbooks is a good bellwether for the nation’s propensity to gamble.
Due to a hodgepodge of restrictive, overlapping, and altogether messy legislation, sports betting is legal in only four states: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. Nevada is the only state which has a sizeable network of betting shops.
Las Vegas sportsbooks have traditionally been sideshows located inside larger casino complexes. Gambling establishments like the Wynn, Las Vegas Sands, and MGM each have their sportsbook, but they’ve only become big moneymakers in the last few years.
Vegas sportsbooks set a record in 2013 by taking $99 million in wagers on Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. That record was shattered the new year, when bettors wagered $116 million on Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.
According to Jay Kornegay, who manages the LVH sportsbook: “It’s not just an amenity anymore; it’s not just icing on the cake, it’s part of the meal. We’ve seen crowds like we’ve never seen before.”
Sportsbooks are welcoming female customers
Women have historically been discourage from betting (and gambling in general) for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it’s viewed as unladylike. The betting shop is the domain of men, just as the hair salon is primarily a place for women to socialize. Emma Sinclair of The Telegraph put it succinctly:
The particular betting shop was so grim I half expected someone to light up a cigarette in a corner.
It was full of men, screens littered with sports I don’t follow, notice boards talking about fishing odds I didn’t understand and when I went to the counter to place my bet, I had to convince the man behind the counter that I could place it as he didn’t seem to think betting on ice skating was possible.
Sinclair was describing a betting shop in the UK, an institution which is altogether different from the clean and comfortable Vegas sportsbook. These gambling establishments are becoming much more amenable to female clientele, and women are responding by betting more.
Terry Cox, the director of race and sportsbook at Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, Nev., raves about the number of women visiting his sportsbook each Super Bowl Sunday. He estimates the female-to-male ratio of customers betting on the Super Bowl to be about 50-50.
Cox thinks that Peppermill’s amenities, including a world-class spa and restaurants, explain the higher concentration of female customers, which on a typical weekend is closer to 40-60 female-to-male. The Super Bowl is also the perfect time to attract new customers: “This is the weekend when people come up to the counter and say, ‘We’ve never placed a wager before.”
Online and mobile betting are easier than ever
For those women who still have reservations about sauntering into a sportsbook on Super Bowl Sunday, there is the massive market for online sportsbetting. The American Gaming Association estimated that in 2012 roughly $10 billion was wagered worldwide on the big game.
Bets taken by Nevada sportsbooks are a drop in the bucket compared to the worldwide take, most of which is wagered with online sportsbooks in the UK such as Bet365 and BetVictor, as well as bookies in offshore locations like Malta, Gibraltar, Antigua, and the Isle of Man.
There are no definite statistics on how much of this money is wagered by women, but considering the survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson, it must be a significant amount. Anyone with an interest in the NFL can now flip open their laptop or mobile device and place a wager in seconds. Is it really a wonder why more women are participating?