How top women executives in sports and betting are leading by example

Sports leagues go all-in on gambling

FanDuel CEO Amy Howe stands out in a crowd — in spite of her slight stature.

In a room full of executives in the sports or gambling industries, she’s often one of very few women.

But Howe has the spotlight, and a megaphone, as the chief executive of the nation’s market leader in sports betting. FanDuel announced this week that during the fourth quarter it increased its market share to 50% of legal sports betting in the U.S.

Howe joined Caesars CEO Tom Reeg and New England Patriots President Jonathan Kraft at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference this week to discuss the deepening relationship between the betting and sports industries, the need for better technology to acquire and keep customers, and the competitive landscape.

Howe’s gender never came up.

But in many conversations — off the stage and behind the scenes — it’s clear Howe stands as a role model to other women in sports and gambling. And here, she keeps good company.

Renie Anderson is executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the National Football League, which for years has been working to engage more women as football fans. Anderson said having women in leadership roles has made a difference.

“We’re really working to make sure we’ve got the best people in the best places — if it’s on the field, in the locker room, in the boardroom — leading in those positions,” Anderson told CNBC at the MIT Sloan conference. “We’re working to make sure that we’re not just hiring [women], but we’re finding them, we’re training them, we’re providing opportunities for women. We can’t be complacent.”

Jessica Gelman, who co-founded the MIT Sloan conference, is the CEO of Kraft Analytics Group, a company that provides sports analytics to teams like the New England Patriots. She has prioritized putting more women on stage. 

“Thirty-eight percent of our speakers are women this year, and that’s in my opinion, because analytics is affording them different insights and a different voice when they’re in the boardroom,” she said. The result, she said, is a more diverse audience and a better pipeline of talent.

Gelman, Anderson and Howe are among dozens of top ranking women in sports and gambling, who make a point to network with each other but also mentor and advise younger professionals.

Sports is a microcosm of the broader world, Gelman said: “I hope that more women, and especially females that are in senior positions will use their positions for power.”

FanDuel CEO Amy Howe: We are expecting 17 million bets this year