As Women’s World Cup Rolls On, Are Ohio Sportsbooks Missing An Opportunity?

Written By Mike Breen on August 2, 2023

Though they have some work to do after some early lackluster performances, fans stateside are still holding out hope that the U.S. women’s national soccer team will be able to win their third straight Women’s World Cup.

With one win and two draws, top-seeded USWNT placed second in the group stage and will move on to the Round of 16 later this week.

The USWNT’s World Cup games are some of the top sporting events of the summer, a time when sportsbooks go through a lull ahead of the start of the NFL season.

But a recent analysis of the top sports betting operators’ Women’s World Cup markets and promotions suggests that sportsbooks may not be fully capitalizing on the sky-high interest in the tournament.

A look at Ohio online sportsbooks shows a wide array of Women’s World Cup wagers, as well as a fair amount of WWC-related promotions. But overall, are Ohio sportsbooks doing all they can to attract potential USWNT — and Women’s World Cup, in general — bettors?

Survey shows sportsbooks generally not featuring Women’s World Cup enough

Betting and gambling industry newsletter Earnings+More recently took a look at data and analysis by Propus Partners that surveyed 50 major sports betting operators in Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Oceania.

Propus looked at how the sportsbooks were covering the Women’s World Cup by examining five factors:

  • If WWC-related banners and links were featured prominently on the site
  • If there were WWC promotional offers
  • If outright markets — wagers on stage winners, overall tournament winners, etc. — were offered
  • If Single Game Parlays — or what they call “bet builders” — were available
  • If individual player markets were offered

Propus’ survey found that all 50 operators offered WWC betting and 46 out of 50 had tournament outright markets. About 65% had player markets and just under 60% offered SGPs.

While the sportsbooks did pretty well in the amount of markets available, the operators fared worse in terms of promotions and the prominence of WWC banners featured on the sites.

Propus found that well under half of the operators did not have any World Cup links or banners easily visible on their sites. Remarkably, only two of the 50 had any sort of promotion connected to the Women’s World Cup.

While the Propus study found that the number of Women’s World Cup markets offered was on par with the men’s tournament last fall, promotions and the conspicuousness of the WWC on sports betting sites were far below what they were for the men’s World Cup.

Women’s World Cup markets plentiful at Ohio sportsbooks

Propus ultimately concluded that the lack of Women’s World Cup promotion was a missed opportunity, especially with interest in women’s soccer being at an all-time high and with sports betting in its traditional mid-summer lull.

A look at Ohio’s 18 online sportsbooks shows similar results, though the major operators in the Buckeye State have done slightly better at featuring the Women’s World Cup on their apps. They also overall have had far more World Cup promotions than what the Propus survey showed.

Rose LaVelle Ohio UWSNT
Cincinnati’s Rose Lavelle (center) is among the USWNT’s top players.

One Ohio sportsbook, Betr Sportsbook Ohio, focuses more on live betting and only offers minimal traditional markets, so they have had no WWC-related markets. We also didn’t include Fanatics Sportsbook Ohio in our survey because it is still in beta-testing mode and not open to the general public.

The other 16 Ohio sportsbooks PlayOhio looked at offered plenty of WWC markets. That includes individual player markets and outright markets. Most Ohio sportsbooks also offered WWC SGPs.

Only a few of the smaller sportsbooks — each accounting for less than 1% of Ohio’s sports betting market share — fell short in terms of the types of WWC wagers available.

Ahead of the USWNT’s final group stage game against Portugal, Betway Sportsbook did not have tournament outright markets, while there were no player markets available at MVGBet Sportsbook. Superbook appears to be the only Ohio sportsbook to not have the option for WWC SGPs.

Ohio sportsbooks mostly fare better with Women’s World Cup promotions, prominence

Compared to Propus’ survey, Ohio sportsbooks did slightly better in terms of promotions and site prominence. But, across the board, it seems like many could do more to spotlight their Women’s World Cup markets.

Ohio’s market leaders FanDuel Sportsbook Ohio and DraftKings Sportsbook Ohio featured the WWC prominently on their apps.

Ahead of the USWNT’s group stage game against Portugal, five of the 10 panels on FanDuel’s top-line carousel were WWC-related, including a couple of promo offers and a link to a World Soccer 101 primer for newcomers. Likewise, DraftKings featured two WWC promotions — a 100% odds boost and a “double your money” offer on any U.S. vs. Portugal bet — prominently on its app.

But beyond the Big 2, things were somewhat hit-or-miss. BetMGM Sportsbook and Hard Rock Bet had lots of MLB promo offers but no WWC promos in their featured carousels. Caesars Sportsbook had a few WWC promos, but only one of the nine panels in its carousel was WWC-related.

Another popular Ohio operator, Bet365 Sportsbook, had the WWC more prominently featured, with two of the six panels in its up-top carousel featuring WWC promos. Well, kind of. The promos offering early payout and a boost on parlays were both also tied to the men’s Leagues Cup tournament currently underway in North America.

Similarly, Betfred Sportsbook was offering three general “soccer” promo offers that included Women’s World Cup matches, but the graphics each included images of generic male players.

BetRivers Sportsbook Ohio put out a Women’s World Cup deposit offer for new users before the group stage.

Only PointsBet, betJACK, MVGBet and SuperBook appeared to have no WWC-related promo offers.

Study shows betting on women’s sports is growing rapidly

A knee-jerk reaction to the relative minimization of the Women’s World Cup by some sports betting operators might suggest that interest in women’s sports — particularly in betting on them — is low and that it’s not worth it for a sportsbook to promote them over other sports.

But a recent study showed that is not the case and that women’s sports betting is actually growing rapidly.

Conducted by the German Sports University Cologne and backed by organizations like the International Betting Integrity Association and the All-In Diversity Project, the “Breaking Barriers: Assessing Women’s Sports, Betting and Integrity Challenges” study analyzed women’s betting habits and the growth in betting on women’s sports.

The research found that women’s soccer had the most betting activity of all of the women’s sports studied (including basketball and tennis). According to the study, betting on women’s soccer has grown 20% year-on-year since 2020 and the number of women betting on women’s soccer has doubled in just the past few years.

The study found that the percentage of women betting on women’s sports has recently increased up to 10% annually. The research also showed that women’s sports betting handle has grown more with women than men.

Two Ohioans are on the USWNT’s World Cup roster

After surviving the group stage, things won’t get any easier as the USWNT enters the knockout stage.

For their first Round of 16 match, the USWNT will face Sweden on Sunday, Aug. 6 at 5 a.m. EDT in Melbourne. The game will air on Fox, Telemundo and the Peacock streaming service.

The USWNT has two Ohioans on its Women’s World Cup roster. Midfielder Rose Lavelle and goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury were both born and raised in Cincinnati.

Kingsbury is the third goalkeeper on the team and has yet to see any playing time in the first three World Cup games. Lavelle, on the other hand, is one of the stars of the team and could play a big role if the team can manage to move on and win its third straight World Cup championship.

But Lavelle has faced struggles so far, somewhat symbolic of the USWNT’s uninspired performance up to this point. In the first three games, the U.S. managed their worst group stage points tally in the team’s World Cup history.

Lavelle was limited to being a second-half sub in the first two matches of the group stage due to an injury. She then received a second yellow card in the 0-0 Portugal match Sunday, meaning she will be ineligible to play in the team’s next match.

Despite emerging doubts about their ability to win it all this year, as of Aug. 2, several Ohio sportsbooks still have the USWNT as the odds-on favorite to win the World Cup, including Tipico Sportsbook, Caesars and Bet365.

But things have tightened up on other sportsbooks. BetMGM and FanDuel both have Spain, England and the U.S. all with even odds to win it all. But DraftKings and PointsBet now have England and Spain favored over the U.S. to win the tournament.

Photo by AP / Alysa Rubin
Mike Breen Avatar
Written by
Mike Breen

Mike Breen covers Ohio’s budding sports betting industry for PlayOhio, focusing on online sportsbooks and the state’s responsible gambling initiatives. He has over two decades of experience covering sports, news, music, arts and culture in Ohio.

View all posts by Mike Breen