A new study highlighting the concurrent growth of women’s sports and sports betting has led to recommendations to curb match-fixing.
The study, titled “Breaking Barriers: Assessing Women’s Sports, Betting and Integrity Challenges,” was launched by a group of organizations including the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) and the All-In Diversity Project (AIDP).
The study focused on soccer, tennis, basketball, cricket, and volleyball, and analyzed the growth in betting on women’s sports and female betting habits.
IBIA CEO Khalid said the study’s findings are timely as the Women’s World Cup is set to kick off later this month:
“We are about to witness the best attended and most watched women’s World Cup in history, and where soccer leads other women’s sports are rapidly following. The dramatic growth of women’s sports is a hugely positive development – for sports lovers, the sports and athletes themselves, and also for the betting market.
It is creating very significant and untapped opportunities for sports betting. However, with increased growth, comes an increased responsibility for ensuring we get ahead of the game when it comes to sports integrity and the fight against match-fixing in women’s sport. There is no room for complacency.”
The study was conducted by German Sports University Cologne and was backed by the:
- Stats Perform
Analysis finds that women’s sports betting is growing rapidly
The research found that interest in betting on women’s sports has grown steadily over the past few years. Here are a few highlights from the study:
- Women’s soccer had the biggest share of bets among the five sports studied and has grown 20% year-on-year since 2020.
- Tennis, basketball, and cricket betting grew 10% every year from 2017 to 2022.
- The number of women betting on women’s soccer has doubled over the past few years
- The percentage of women betting on women’s sports has grown up to 10% annually in recent years
- Betting handle on women’s sports has grown more among women than men
In short, researchers observed that betting on women’s sports is surging. AIDS Co-Founder Christina Thakor-Ranking said that should be a catalyst for a renewed focus on women’s sports integrity.
“This study wants to be the beginning of a conversation with the betting industry on how it addresses women’s sports,” she said. “By understanding what this new and rapidly evolving landscape looks like we put ourselves in the best possible position to keep customers, sports betting operators, athletes, and sport safe for all.”
Study suggests action steps to protect integrity of women’s sports
The research found that betting-influenced corruption in women’s sports happens at a “significantly lower” rate than in men’s sports. But it offered several preemptive moves stakeholders can make to keep ills like match-fixing at bay:
- Improved monitoring and cooperation between sports governing bodies, sports betting operators, and law enforcement
- Create educational material for athletes, coaches, and other staff that focuses on the dangers of corruption and match-fixing
- Increase research and data-gathering effort
- Pay female athletes fairly
- Promote economic transparency
The final two suggestions indicate there is a concern among researchers that, as women’s sports popularity grows, pay inequality may lead athletes to participate in betting schemes just to pay bills. That scenario has played out in men’s sports, the study noted.
“The experience of men’s sport has shown that sports betting can be the subject of criminals who defraud regulated operators by manipulating matches and exploiting vulnerabilities of sports and athletes,” the IBIA study said.