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Betting in Women’s Sport

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Betting is a huge industry around the world - where you can bet from the obvious sport related results to the truly ridiculous including how many times a politician will say certain words in a speech or the name of a celebrity’s unborn baby. Huge amounts of money are handled around the world in betting shops and thanks to the internet, and all the many online bookmakers.

With the Women’s Football World Cup just about to come to life in Canada I decided to do some research into gambling in women’s sport around the world. I contacted bookmakers’ press departments as part of our online research to understand more about it. The one thing that everyone agrees on is that Football is the most popular women’s sport to bet on by a long way - and the World Cup is the biggest and most bet on of all the women’s sports worldwide.

This is fantastic news until you look at it in more detail. At the time of writing this article there were only 4% of all betting companies offering any odds on the World Cup with the figure only rising to 9% for any women’s sport. What is strange is if you look at the companies that do offer betting on women’s sport only 14% of them offer betting on the World Cup, supposedly the largest women’s competition in the world?

This seems to make no sense, but what further adds to the picture is that although you can get odds for U19 internationals, getting odds at club level for all the major leagues in the world is impossible: there is not a single company offering any bets. This is further compounded when reading through the various articles and links on betting sites - the information is so out of date, including having old league names still displayed. When I spoke with the Director of Media relations for one of the largest bookmakers he said that they don’t update any of the website information anymore and do blogs if necessary, a very haphazard approach.

It’s a sad situation when it’s easier to get odds on who the next ‘sexiest woman on earth’ is or the potential of an alien existence than it is for many women’s sporting events. The 6 Nations, heralded as ‘the greatest championship’ and the largest international competition outside of the Rugby World Cup, saw only one company offer odds on the matches despite the mens version that runs in tandem having every regional bookmaker offering odds, not only on the game but on who will score etc.

I am not seeking to comment on the morality of betting or encouraging people to bet, but merely highlighting that within the worldwide betting community women’s sport is hardly on the radar and where it is, it is scant to say the least. Could there be a world where a large bookmaker backs a sport or tournament and encourages people to bet? Maybe. If they did, imagine the revenue that they could bring into that sport? It would change the face of any sport.