The Garden State is helping the LPGA boost its sports betting presence.
The ShopRite LPGA Classic Friday-Sunday at Seaview Bay Course in Galloway, just a few miles west of Atlantic City casinos, launches a bold parlay program for BetMGM.
The NJ online sportsbook was among the first in the industry to post betting odds this week.
Although the ShopRite is one of the smallest purses on tour at $1,750,000, it comes directly on the heels of the richest, the $10 million U.S. Women’s Open. That received some betting activity and BetMGM officials hope to extend it.
There’s nothing like the tailwind of a highly-visible tournament to launch a book’s betting platform.
NJ sports bettors will notice Jin Young Ko is the +400 favorite and defending champion Celine Bouiter is a +1800 longshot. There is an extensive list of players on the board.
And from a BetMGM perspective, the ShopRite LPGA Classic odds are part of a bigger plan.
“At this point now, we’re probably going to start posting odds on the tournaments every week,” Jason Scott, the VP of Trading for BetMGM, told PlayNJ.
BetMGM looking to build LPGA betting interest
Posting LPGA odds is just the latest example of how women’s sports are growing dramatically.
“Our efforts now are about pushing the product. What’s the line in Field of Dreams about ‘If you build it, they will come?’ Well, if we keep putting the LPGA wagers up, we figure to keep growing interest in that over time,” Scott said.
“Look at it this way,” he laughed, “If you can’t make money in golf, you don’t have much of a future as a bookmaker. Golf is a lot easier to price than some other sports.”
There is always a big field to draw money from. Bettors are rightly enamored with potential longshot prices that can range from +2000 to +1000. The books may pay out some of those, but take in a considerable amount of money on all the other longshots bets that they don’t pay out.
For now, BetMGM is sticking to the moneyline only. There are no next-hole props, for instance, or individual matchups.
One reason the books proceed slowly is the lack of name recognition among star players to the American bettors.
Of the LPGA’s 10 top-ranked players, only three are from the United States:
- Danielle Kang
- Lexi Thompson
- Jennifer Kupcho
This differs substantially from the heavy American presence on the PGA tour.
“You can’t force people to bet on something they are not interested in,” Scott said. “That does change for us in situations like last week, when Lexi Thompson (a popular American golfer who also won the ShopRite LPGA in 2019) is in the field. That boosts interest quite a bit.”
Scott said that the LPGA also struggles with not being able to land consistent television exposure.
For instance, the ShopRite LPGA Classic is only airing on the Golf Channel and not one of the major networks.
In the end, it doesn’t cost operators much to post odds and build a brand.
BetMGM CRM analytics indicate that bettors who already wager on the PGA also take LPGA action.
If the book consistently puts up wagers, the LPGA may eventually get some traction.
Other NJ sportsbooks have odds, but PGA Tour on a different level
Some other NJ online sportsbooks have grabbed onto the LPGA betting odds idea for the ShopRite tournament in Galloway.
PointsBet NJ has Jin Young Ko at +450, Lydia Ko at +650 and Boutier at +1600.
They also throw in something incredibly novel: some players with betting odds of +50000 or 500-1. Hint: They are priced that long for a reason and probably won’t be played
Bet365 has an extensive board compared to the competition. It not only lists all the players, but has props for both a first-round leader and a Top-5 finish.
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayNJ that the LPGA could write some business for the major tournaments.
But week in and week out, he said there’s nothing like the PGA tour.
“The level of play is unbelievable,” he said. “The way these guys spin the ball, the way they control it, the way they get out of trouble and get themselves so close to the cup is something else. And some of these shots they hit (like Rory McIlroy holing out from the sand at the 18th hole in the Masters) is just unreal.”
ShopRite LPGA Classic history
The tournament has been a win-win for the community and area economy since its 1986 inception.
After ShopRite became involved as a sponsor in 1992, nearly $40 million has been donated to area hospitals, food banks, education and youth programs. The tourney has also pumped nearly $20 million into the local economy each year according to LPGA reports, because most of the gallery comes from outside the area and from within New Jersey.
The tournament has a natural magnet just a few miles to the East.
Three decades before legalized sports gambling, players considered this tournament an unofficial Atlantic City casino tour stop. The 54-hole tournament allowed for early and midweek practice rounds, coupled with trips to nearby casinos for gambling and entertainment.
This was especially significant during the first few years of the tournament, when Atlantic City held the East Coast’s only brick-and-mortar gambling properties.
And the world’s top players come.
The list of former champions is highlighted by past and future legends of the game. Multiple winners of the event are Betsy King (1987, 1995, 2001), Annika Sörenstam (1998, 2002, 2005), Juli Inkster (1986, 1988), Stacy Lewis (2012, 2014) and Anna Nordqvist (2015, 2016).