Reaching new heights
Typically, sportsbooks across the world rely heavily on major soccer tournaments for handle. For the previous men’s FIFA World Cup in 2018, for instance, estimates suggest that viewers wagered $155bn on the entire tournament. To put that into perspective, the competition was basically equivalent to 17 Super Bowls in a row, for which betting reached $8bn in 2022.
This year, another major soccer competition has sportsbooks excited. The UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 ended on Sunday night with host England beating the Germans to lift the trophy. It may have been the first time England has won a major soccer competition since 1966, but it’s the wagering figures that have really piqued the interest of the world’s betting giants.
the most bets ever placed on a female sporting event”
Flutter Entertainment, the owner of Sky Betting and Gaming, FanDuel, and Paddy Power, published data ahead of the final which suggested that the tournament was “set to see the most bets ever placed on a female sporting event.” Similarly, Entain, owner of Ladbrokes, Bwin, and Coral, reported 1.5 million online bets on the competition, a record for female sport.
Along with increases in viewership and stadium attendance, these figures suggest women’s soccer is finally getting the respect it deserves on the world stage. As it continues that growth trajectory, sportsbooks stand to make a tidy profit.
Betting in their droves
By taking a deeper dive into the figures, we can see the impact of the increased spotlight on this year’s Women’s EUROs. While the figures are far from that seen in the men’s version of the competition, their record-breaking growth suggests bright things for betting on women’s sport.
Paddy Power reported a 26% increase in wagering volume compared to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019. Ahead of Sunday’s final, the operator had taken £6.6m ($8m) in bets during the tournament. Meanwhile, Sky Betting and Gaming reported a 17% rise in stakes from 2019, with 934,330 bets placed in total across the whole tournament excluding in-play.
a sixfold increase in the number of bets placed by women
As indicated by Entain, UK bettors wagered the most on the competition. They represented 46% of the total wagers placed on the EUROs, followed by Germans at 22%, and Brazilians at 16%. Significantly, the operator also saw a sixfold increase in the number of bets placed by women compared to the previous World Cup.
The final in particular saw 840,000 bets through Flutter’s main three brands. Sky Bet took total stakes of £4.7m ($5.7m) for the England-Germany clash, while in-play wagers came to a tidy sum of £1.1m ($1.3m). As can be expected, games featuring England saw the largest profits for Flutter.
A bright future
These betting figures run parallel with viewership. The EUROs amassed a global live audience of more than 250 million. That’s up 40% from the former edition in 2017. The final also broke the record for the largest crowd in the tournament’s history, with 87,192 people making the trip to Wembley Stadium. Aggregate attendance reached 547,875, well surpassing the previous highest of 240,055.
Notably, the three highest recorded attendances in European soccer this year came from women’s games. The EUROs final was just the third-highest in 2022. It trailed the 91,553-strong crowd that watched Barcelona women face Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Champions League, and the clash between Barca and Wolfsburg in the first leg of the Semis watched live by 91,648.
Support for the women’s game doesn’t look like slowing down either:
The numbers truly speak for themselves. If the popularity of women’s soccer ultimately reaches anywhere near that of the men’s, sportsbook operators will have access to an additional moneymaking machine every two years through the EUROs and World Cup. No doubt, their fingers are well and truly crossed.