March sits at the intersection of Women’s History Month and the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, inciting an important conversation about female representation in the sports industry.
This conversation is particularly relevant to New Yorkers, as New York is becoming the hottest state in the country for legalized sports betting. And now, DraftKings is extending these offerings to female sports, as well.
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In light of DraftKings’ efforts to equalize the betting industry, we’ve connected with their Director of Sportsbook Product, Lexi Janson.
As a woman in a heavily male-dominated space, Janson is a strong advocate for gender equality across all facets of the industry.
See Also: Where To Watch March Madness In NYC
We sat down with Lexi to discuss the importance of gender inclusivity in the realm of sports, and how DraftKings is helping to foster this long over-due dialogue.
Can you talk a bit about some of the unique and global women's sports that are being offered to bettors in New York? Furthermore, how is DraftKings changing the narrative surrounding women in sport?
Since launching our sportsbook product in 2018, our female offerings have increased significantly. Currently, we offer over 100 female sports leagues on DraftKings Sportsbook and are always exploring ways to increase that number.
Each state is a unique market, so offerings will vary. In New York, we currently have several offerings for New York in-season sports, including several UFC matchups, WNBA futures, the Indian Wells Masters tournament, and more. As leagues launch their seasons, more sports will be added to the product.
What prompted DraftKings to expand the array of women's sports being offered? How is this challenging the deep-rooted notion that women are inferior athletes?
At DraftKings, we believe that we can help drive more fan engagement on female sports and athletes and engage an audience that may not necessarily already follow the sport.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a massive push to promote women’s sports and showcase them the same way men’s sports are presented. We wanted to be part of the conversation and highlight the incredible female athletes around the world and their teams on our own products. The best way to do this, as a sports betting operator, is to add more women’s sports to our existing offerings. I think we’ve done a great job at it and look forward to continuing to increase our offerings.
What is DraftKings doing to celebrate Women's History Month? How do your new offerings tie into these themes?
Throughout the month of March, as well as year-round, we have various efforts taking place in collaboration with our inclusion, equity and belonging team, Women’s Business Resource Group, Corporate Social Responsibility team, and Benefits team to support females within the company and give back to organizations that empower females.
In honor of International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, which celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of all women, DraftKings offices were closed to recognize it as a company holiday. In recognition of this year’s IWD call to action, “Break the Bias,” the DraftKings Shop has designed a limited-edition “Break the Bias. Beat the Odds” DraftKings Branded t-shirt for purchase to which 100% of the profits will benefit women’s organizations that DraftKings works with.
To celebrate iconic female athletes and entrepreneurs, the company has also launched its Women’s History Month free-to-play popularity pool. To learn more, visit https://bit.ly/3pH5XVe.
As a company, we continue to add and enhance female sports offerings and promotions across our platforms including 50% Women’s College Basketball Profit Boosts and topical Odds Boosts to be made available throughout March.
In what ways are these new offerings further democratizing the sports betting industry?
Enhancing our female sports offerings is certainly a step in the right direction. We encourage all sportsbooks to do the same as a simple way to further break the barrier for female sports and drive more fan engagement. Though, there is certainly still more that needs to be done in this space across the industry.
With March Madness coming up, what is DraftKings doing around offering bets to be taken on the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament?
We’re really excited to be offering a “Women’s to Make the Final Four'' market in approved, regulated states. For the first time, DraftKings Sportsbook customers will be able to bet on which of the top 10 teams they think will make the Final Four. DraftKings will also be offering a 50% profit boost on the Women’s CBB National Championship Futures market.
Social reform is long overdue in the sports industry. How is DraftKings leading this reform?
As a leader in the sports entertainment and tech industries, we are simply playing our part in ensuring that women’s sports are offered on our sportsbook product. By offering various female sports markets across our regulated states, we provide more opportunities for fans to engage with women’s sports.
There is still work that needs to be done to reach our overall goals of equity, but we are confident that we are taking the necessary steps in the right direction. As we expand our product markets, we continue to strategize new offerings for women’s sports.
As a leader in the sports betting world, what responsibility do you feel to be inclusive of all types of people?
At DraftKings, we believe the best work and innovation comes from diverse perspectives, thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and experiences. We work very hard to foster a culture of inclusion and belonging that makes our employees feel safe, empowered, engaged, championed, and inspired to be the very best.
I’m particularly proud to be a leader within a company like DraftKings which recognizes the importance of offering equitable opportunities for employees hoping to plan a family, regardless of gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. One example of this commitment is that DraftKings provides workplace lactation support as breastfeeding employees face a multitude of logistical, emotional, and physical challenges, which can impact their ability to succeed, at both feeding and work. Offering this as a benefit free to employees, makes it easier for parents to balance family and career.
What industry-wide changes do you think need to be made in order to make sports a truly equalitarian space for all?
Industry-wide, I believe that there needs to be more opportunities for minorities to succeed in the male-dominated space. Role modeling is an extremely important step to challenge any bias: seeing is believing.
At DraftKings, we have had many conversations with our employees, our executive team, and our board to listen, learn and reflect on how we as an organization can do better to support and foster an equitable environment.
We have an Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging team and together have committed to allocating over $1 million annually to support our company’s goals, with progress already being made. Some examples include:
We commend DraftKings for being more inclusive in terms of gender, but there is a lot more work to be done. What other identities do you feel are underrepresented in sports, and what can DraftKings do to make a difference?
There is still a long way we need to come in terms of equity in sport. There are several groups including disabled, LGBTQ+, female athletes, among others that are not treated or viewed the same in the sports world when compared to able, white men.
At DraftKings, we have groups like our Women’s Business Resource Group, DK Shades, and DK Pride as resources to employees, but on our platform, we plan to continue to explore ways to highlight and feature these athletes and sports.
How are DraftKing's new offerings filling a critical gap in the market? From a business perspective, why is this a smart choice?
With more female sports offerings, we can better engage female sports fans and female sports audiences that may not have existed before.
One of our goals at DraftKings is to bring sports fans closer to the games and players they love while also exposing them to other sports. This enables opportunities for all sports fans to engage with and have fun with games they may not have had the opportunity to otherwise.
Photography by: Dan Carlson