There is no doubt that the value and interest from a business standpoint in sports where women are the focus is growing. Women’s World Cup, the expansion of the WNBA and the coming Tokyo Olympics are just three top of mind spots, along with the continued vibrant businesses like golf and tennis.
Another of those bellwether moments of inclusion may have come Wednesday around yet another hot button point of interest; sports gambling.
The LPGA announced in a release that it will implement a comprehensive integrity program, in partnership with Genius Sports, to deliver sports-betting related monitoring, education and structures for the management of investigations.
“Sports betting is certainly coming and we’ll have to get our hands around it, so we are very excited to establish an integrity strategy in partnership with Genius Sports,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan in a statement. “In this partnership, we will educate our players, protect our sport, and ensure our competition is guarded against any corrupting influences. Sports betting may bring another wave of worldwide sports fans to the LPGA, but it will require us to be protected and supported by experts like Genius Sports.”
The LPGA’s integrity team will be equipped with regular reports, analysis and betting data from the most advanced monitoring system in world golf. This technology will track global betting activity for all LPGA Tour and Symetra Tour competitions to automatically highlight any potentially suspicious patterns that may occur across domestic and international betting markets. The LPGA will work with Genius Sports to develop a tailored educational program that will help players, caddies and officials to identify, resist and report incidents of potential betting corruption. Educational workshops will reinforce the LPGA’s regulations and highlight the potential consequences related to betting corruption. Additionally, custom-made e-learning modules will be available on a worldwide basis to all LPGA and Symetra Tour players in multiple languages.
“With the growing focus on why sports integrity matters, the LPGA Tour has taken proactive steps to effectively safeguard its tournaments, members and reputation,” added Ben Paterson, Integrity Operations Director at Genius Sports.
Now is there a massive betting market on women’s professional golf? Hard to say yet, but taking the proactive step in engaging and keeping things above board as sports gambling keeps expanding is a smart next step for the LPGA, a sport which still trends to heavy interest in Asia, a market with big dollars and corruption issues in sports like tennis. This can also open the door to potential sports gambling partnerships for the Tour and players, a marketing line which is growing every day.
Gambling and golf have long been quiet bedfellows, nice move LPGA to be a first adapter here to join many of the other U.S.-based leagues in taking the interest seriously today than ever before. It’s a really safe bet.