As TV ratings continue to decline for even championship sporting events, sports industry executives are running a new play: getting more fans gambling.
Ever since a Supreme Court ruling in May opened the door for states to legalize sports betting, gambling has been hailed as a way to get more people watching games. After all, fans are likely to be more interested in the score if they have money riding on it.
“You’re 19 times more likely to watch an event if you’re betting on it,” George Pyne, founder and CEO of investment firm Bruin Sports Capital, said at Fortune’s Brainstorm Reinvent conference in Chicago on Monday. “So the engagement of those people that are going to be gambling is going to increase avidity.”
While soccer is the most bet upon sport worldwide (and American football attracts the most gambling in the U.S.), Pyne is looking to get fans betting on sports that have not historically attracted as many wagers—such as golf.
Indeed, the sports gambling landscape has changed in recent years. Pyne said tennis has become the second-most gambled upon sport in the world today, “which is unbelievable.”
Pyne recently discussed his idea with the commissioner of the PGA Tour, the official organizer of men’s professional golfing tournaments in the U.S.
“Think about golf, which has 78 players playing at any given time on a course,” Pyne said. “All of a sudden, golf becomes a lot more engaging to those that care about it. The betting opportunities are off the charts.”
Golf’s large amount of individual contestants could create interesting betting odds given the wide variety of outcomes and varying probabilities. Still, golf has suffered declining ratings and struggled to get people to tune in over the past few years—though that could change after star player Tiger Woods returned from injury to win the Tour Championship this past weekend.
Speaking alongside Pyne, Connor Schell, ESPN’s executive vice president of content, said the media company is also starting to produce more betting-related shows (including one called I’ll Take That Bet), and thinking about ways to more directly attract sports gamblers.
“This is just the beginning of exploring how this changes how you connect with sports fans, and how you connect with the real avid and engaged sports fans,” Schell said.