LPGA Tour Gets Serious About Sports Betting, Strikes IMG Arena Partnership

Posted on: January 7, 2022, 09:50h. 

Last updated on: January 7, 2022, 10:35h.

The LPGA Tour is hoping to capitalize off expanded sports betting by way of increased fan engagement. Today, the leading women’s professional golf tour announced a partnership with IMG Arena, a data distribution firm focused on the emerging US sports betting industry.

LPGA Tour sports betting IMG Arena
LPGA Tour stars Lexi Thompson (left) and Jessica and Nelly Korda are pictured together at the 2019 Solheim Cup. The LPGA Tour is partnering with IMG Arena for new sports betting opportunities on the women’s pro golf game. (Image: Getty)

Under the deal, IMG Arena will receive the exclusive data and distribution rights to the LPGA Tour’s live on-course statistical feed.

IMG Arena will dispense live LPGA Tour data to licensed sportsbooks who opt to purchase the stream. Those books can, in turn, offer an array of in-tournament and in-round betting opportunities.

This is a significant commercial partnership that helps grow the game with thrilling content reaching new audiences and driving fan engagement around the world,” said Brian Carroll, SVP of the tour’s global media distribution department.

The LPGA Tour and IMG Arena arrangement includes more than 30 tournaments a year, beginning immediately. The women’s tour is a global operation that conducts events in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The circuit is highlighted by five major championships.

Luring Men to Women’s Golf

IMG Arena is one of the largest sports betting data distribution services in the world. The company reached a similar deal with the PGA Tour in 2019. IMG says the LPGA Tour data will be included in its Golf Event Center.

“Our feeds combine with live streaming to allow fans to ‘step inside’ the ropes. Live and historical event statistics, detailed visualizations, and ultra-responsive markets are presented via 2D and 3D interfaces to create a unique fan experience,” IMG Arena explains of its golf product.

Sports that otherwise pale in popularity compared with the NFL or college football have seen an uptick in audience engagement because of sports betting. In Colorado, for instance, $7.8 million was wagered on table tennis in November alone.

The LPGA Tour reaching a sports betting deal with IMG Arena could result in better television ratings for its live events by way of attracting more male viewers.

The legal US sports betting market is heavily male. DraftKings and FanDuel report that their sportsbook customer bases are almost 90 percent male. It would seem to be a solid bet that bringing LPGA Tour in-round betting options to the smartphones of the millions of male bettors will increase engagement in the women’s sport.

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan told Golf Digest recently that sports betting is a “huge opportunity” that can “help us tell our story more aggressively and get a wider fan base.”

Ratings Increase

The LPGA Tour is already amid a surge in interest. Television viewership for the women’s tour increased 21 percent in 2020, while the PGA Tour ratings climbed only four percent from 2019.

The spike has been credited to the LPGA Tour having an abundance of popular stars, including sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson, and Lexi Thompson. The Korda sisters, Kang, and Thompson are US-born and raised.

“The LPGA Tour features some of the most talented athletes in the world and weekly tournaments of the finest quality, which will deliver a vast and compelling range of data-led sports betting content for operators and their players,” said Max Wright, IMG Arena’s senior VP of commercial operations.