With competition in Ontario’s sports betting industry growing fiercer by the day as more operators launch in the province, FanDuel is one company that says it is focusing on how to acquire more female bettors.
Last February, Deloitte Canada published a study on how operators could win over “potential” bettors, who are defined as those who haven’t placed a sports bet in the last 12 months but want to learn more about how to do so. Deloitte estimated that potential bettors make up 58.5% of the sports betting community in Canada and that the majority of those identify as female (57%).
The All-In Diversity Project, which polled 40 organizations in the gambling industry across 16 jurisdictions including Sky Betting, Light & Wonder, Penn National Gaming, Kindred, and IGT, released its annual report last week and it included some interesting data regarding women.
According to the report, the overall percentage of women employed in the industry has dropped from a 50-50 split with men in previous years to 43%. It said female representation at the executive board level is still underrepresented at 29%, and 16% of people linked to trading roles are non-male, which is a 7% increase from last year’s data.
While some of these numbers are promising, FanDuel’s director of content activations and brand, Alannah Della Vedova, believes much more can be done to encourage women to work, and participate, in Canada’s new regulated sports betting market.
“There are perceived barriers. There is a very stereotypical sports betting culture that people think exists — that it’s this back-alley thing that only happens with men. That is very much not the case, especially not in the legalized space,” she explained. “Visibility matters. There’s actually a lot of women working in the industry, and specifically, at FanDuel. We have women on the product team, trading team, analytics. Women just aren’t in those stereotypical marketing and HR roles.
“We need to do a better job of yelling from the rooftops that women are more than welcome here in this space, and we need them, because diversity of thought is what really drives success. You can only have that with diversity of gender, culture, and race.”
FanDuel’s own CEO, Amy Howe, believes there’s much more room for women to work in the business and that the market for women wagering on sports can also grow.
FanDuel’s Amy Howe says women on sports betting platforms is growing 115% times the rate of men.
— Jess Golden (@JGolden5) July 13, 2022
“Amy is a great example. She’s always bringing more women to the forefront. She talks about the roles that they play and talks about how they contribute to daily business strategy and the success at FanDuel,” Della Vedova said.
Della Vedova shared that FanDuel’s active female user base in Ontario has grown by 15-20 percent since launch in April. These women have shown a preference for betting on baseball at FanDuel during the early months of the regulated market.
Boosting the popularity of the WNBA
According to Della Vedova, the WNBA handle as a percentage of the total basketball handle at FanDuel is just over 9%.
“We prioritize WNBA markets. We try to go deep with our offerings with our trading team. Having that available, and upfront and center for people to interact with within our core product, is key,” she said.
The popularity of the WNBA could get a huge boost in Canada if Toronto were to be awarded a franchise. Last November, Canadian rapper and Toronto Raptors ambassador Drake posted on his Instagram account that he desperately wanted a WNBA franchise in his home city.
— Khristina Williams (@Khristina) November 3, 2021
Basketball is booming in Canada ever since the Raptors’ 2019 championship run, and Ontario bettors love wagering on basketball.
Della Vedova believes the key to unlocking the WNBA’s wagering popularity and visibility is by having great betting markets for users, while also having a solid content plan to promote the sport.
“Let’s give it the platform and microphone that it deserves,” she said.
FanDuel is taking feedback from its current, and prospective, female bettors on all social platforms. There are also plans to utilize data from a third-party consumer research firm to help attract more female bettors.
“We definitely can do better in regards to pulling women into our sportsbook. I think we’re off to a great start,” Della Vedova said. “We’re leaning a lot on our partners to have more expertise on how to get women into the ecosystem. I think it has a lot to do with shifting attitudes and cultures.
“There’s this general sentiment, that for women, just make it pink and throw some glitter on it. That’s not the way the female consumer wants to be spoken to. We want to listen to our female consumers and find out what they need.”
Sports betting and cannabis
Della Vedova previously worked in marketing for two major sports media companies in Ontario: Rogers Communications and theScore. She also acted as a brand manager for Up Cannabis, which named cannabis strains after Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip.
There are many parallels between the sports betting and cannabis industries in Canada. They were both recently prohibited, but then decriminalized, paving the way for the launch of their respective industries.
Della Vedova said her previous role in the cannabis industry helped her understand the creation of regulated markets, and what the move from gray to legalization means for consumers.
“Each province can build its own journey for the people of that province,” she noted. “It’s not a cookie-cutter approach in both cannabis and sports betting. Understanding those regulations and nuances in cannabis, I think, truly helped me navigate what that means for launching a new gaming industry here in Ontario.”
Della Vedova also played a key role in promoting Toronto-based theScore Bet leading up to its April 4 launch. The operator unveiled its humorous “Bet Mode” advertising campaign with the help of comedians Susie Essman, of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame, and Gerry Dee, who is also the host of Family Feud Canada. Actor Rex Lee (Entourage and Young and Hungry) also starred in the campaign.
“It worked for them, and their brand, and their value proposition. I’m super happy about what we accomplished over there [at theScore] with regards to just launching in a new industry. I think every sportsbook, FanDuel included, should be proud of what was accomplished,” she said.
Partnerships key to growing brand
Della Vedova joined FanDuel Canada in May, shortly after the operator announced major partnerships with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Canadian sports broadcaster TSN, and the NFL.
FanDuel is very proud to become an official Sportsbook of MLSE—a major pillar in Canadian culture. Ontario fans' passion for the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Argonauts is unparalleled, and FanDuel is excited to help fans engage further through elevated viewing experiences. pic.twitter.com/5aspPDGwFy
— FanDuel Canada (@FanDuelCanada) April 8, 2022
FanDuel plans to utilize these partnerships to produce more content, add educational materials, and heighten value for sports bettors.
“I think what we’re really hoping to accomplish is a sense of community. We really want our bettors and sports fans to love and interact with our brand,” Della Vedova said. “Our brand not only has a great product in the market, but we also want to elevate their fan experience. Make it more entertaining and more fun to participate in sports they already love. We have the lofty goal of being up there with the Nikes, or whatnot, in terms of brand recognition.”
FanDuel’s marketing team is now busy preparing for the NFL season that begins Sept. 8. Many operators see the start of the season as a crucial time for customer acquisition in the province. Ontario sports fans are passionate about the nearby Buffalo Bills, who are the favorites at FanDuel (+650) and elsewhere to win the next Super Bowl.
“NFL, I think, for any sportsbook, is going to be big business. It’s also going to be interesting because this is the first season we’ll have it. With the April 4 launch, there wasn’t NFL. And we all know how prominent the NFL is in the U.S. We’ll be working with the NFL and TSN to really bring some interesting integrations and value-added content. Not much I can release just yet, but there will be some interesting stuff for fans to consume during the season,” Della Vedova teased.