LPGA Misses The Cut On Sports Betting

Written By Rashid Mohamed on May 27, 2022 - Last Updated on August 2, 2022
LPGA continues to ignore sports betting at its own peril

The 2022 LPGA Tour season promises another year of record-setting purses and playing opportunities. Members of the LPGA Tour are competing for $85.7 million in official purses this year, thanks to the support of new and longtime partners. That’s the largest total to be bestowed on the world’s best female golfers over 34 official events.

However, something is conspicuously missing. The LPGA continues to ignore sports betting at its own peril.

Unfortunately, California sports betting being illegal means Golden State residents can’t bet on LPGA action anyway. That may change in the November election, as two initiatives will be on the ballot.

No onsite booths, no promotion

Two weeks ago, the Tour held its latest golf contest, the Cognizant Founders Cup, in Clifton, New Jersey. Both online and in-person sports betting are legal and prominent in The Garden State.

Missing from the course that weekend were onsite booths or suites promoting sports betting. That was somewhat surprising given tour officials had spoken favorably of sports betting in the past. In fact, just last May, BetMGM became the LPGA’s first official betting partner.

That’s where the booths would have been instrumental in landing some new mobile accounts. Tour employees at the Upper Montclair Country Club could have assisted patrons in downloading the apps. And according to reporters covering the event, there was no reference whatsoever to sports betting throughout the entire competition.

An explanation came by way of an LPGA spokesperson during an interview with NJ Online Gambling:

“Not every tournament highlights LPGA. The Bank of Hope Match Play event [May 26-29, in Las Vegas] will definitely have a larger sports betting presence.”

During last year’s Shoprite LPGA Classic, Atlantic City’s largest annual sporting event, a BetMGM official told NJ Online Gambling that the company would not offer “signage or activations” at the course to promote the partnership.

Brain Carroll, the senior vice president of global media distribution for the LPGA, talked about the partnership last year.

“We are happy to partner with BetMGM as we look to provide more opportunities for our fans to interact with the LPGA and learn more about our incredible athletes.”

LPGA players generally support sports betting

Last January, when the LPGA highlighted its multi-year agreement with IMG Arena, a subsidiary of the global IMG powerhouse, the thought was that more emphasis would be given to sports betting. The new deal gives IMG Arena both sports betting and data distribution rights for live streaming tour events and delivery of new betting options for gamblers.

Carroll, who is convinced that IMG Arena is the unrivaled leader in producing sports golf betting content, is pleased with the partnership.

“With the full LPGA Tour covered, this is a significant commercial partnership that helps grow the game, with thrilling content reaching new audiences and driving fan engagement around the world.”

Danielle Kang is a Tour player with her own partnership deal with BetMGM. She believes sports betting would be good for the game. She spoke to Golf Digest:

“Golf itself is a gambling sport. I want people to have fun playing one-on-one, head-to-head, [and] bet on people they want to bet on. I think that’ll bring more interest to the game.”

Another supporting voice came from veteran player Mel Reid.

“People love to bet. They’ll bet on anything … horses, dogs. Hopefully, we’re not the bottom of the food chain.”

It’s the complete opposite at PGA Tour

Things appear much different in the PGA Tour, where sports betting has gone mainstream. One only needs to compare the LPGA situation with the PGA Tour North Jersey event that took place in Jersey City in 2019 and 2021.

By 2019, sports betting in NJ had been legal for a little over a year, but any signs of it on the course were few and far between. FanDuel did have a First Round Beer Garden at the 13th green, where employees helped spectators download the FanDuel app on their smartphones. There weren’t even any advertised, pre-event incentives. Mobile spectators had to search for them on their own.

Fast forward two years, and the “DraftKings House” is visibly stationed close to the 16th tee. The corporate tent and its signage facility were reminiscent of more traditional longtime sponsors. And since the PGA has been dependent on the Golf Channel for several years, sports betting is now an intrinsic part of the event’s broadcast.

Unfortunately, the LPGA has largely ignored sports betting.

LPGA losing earning potential

The LPGA continues to ignore sports betting at its own peril. Although betting on the LPGA Tour has been legal for a few years now, certain limitations are stifling its growth.

A lack of prominence in advertising and some neglect have held the Tour back from capitalizing on the $4.33 billion sports betting industry. One way around that would be to add more live betting options.

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said as much to Golf Digest in 2021. Samaan emphasized that technology and data were huge opportunities that the LPGA needed to tap into to reach a wider fan base.

Moreover, by increasing betting and streaming options, the Tour could tap into a younger demographic. Younger fans are more in tune with online gaming activities. According to the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association, the average age of sports gamblers is 37.7.

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Rashid Mohamed

Rashid Mohamed is an international journalist with a special interest in sports writing. He is a Poli-Sci graduate of Ohio University and holds an A.A.S in Journalism. He has worked in a number of countries and has extensive experience in the United Nations as well as other regional, national, and international organizations. Rashid lives and writes out of Denver, Colorado.

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