Caitlin Clark Effect: NCAA Betting Boomed, WNBA Following

Caitlin Clark is being counted on to elevate everything she touches: the WNBA, its television ratings, the Indiana Fever, and women’s sports generally.

The former Iowa All-American has already left her market on NCAA Women’s Basketball tournament betting.

And she’s apparently on to the next thing.

According to a report released by marketing platform Optimove, games in which Clark played from the Elite Eight to the national championship were bet on an average of 540% more than other games during that period. For the national championship game, the figure was 720%.

Optimive Insight’s methodology: The company analyzed more than 19 million bets placed on both men’s and women’s NCAA tourney games between March 29 and April 9 to track Clark’s impact. The Oregon State vs. South Carolina women’s game elicited the fewest bets among tracked games and was therefore set as the baseline.

Women's basketball betting

Optimove Insights Reveal Women Betting Potential

  • The women’s championship game averaged 18.7 million TV viewers
  • The men’s championship averaged 14.8 million viewers
  • But the men’s championship game garnered three times the number of bets
  • There is massive growth potential, therefore, for betting on the women’s game

Said Rony Vexelman, VP of Marketing at Optimove: “As the WNBA season is about to tip off … it is doing so, with a generational player. The substantial boost in overall interest in women’s basketball catalyzed by Caitlin Clark is extraordinary.  Her influence on boosting betting, TV viewership, and more is already starting to drive a new women’s basketball economy in the trillions.”

Sportsbooks Cater to New Interest in WNBA Betting

Caitlin Clark betting
AP Photo; Brant James illustration

DraftKings director of race and sportsbook Johnny Avello told the Associated Press that there has been a notable increase in WNBA “star power.”

“Ticket prices, media attention, and even preseason betting are all up, as this new era of stars gets ready to enter the league,” he added. “The WNBA has been steadily growing for the last couple of years, and we are very excited for what should be an excellent season.”

“People are so interested in (Clark), and we’ve leaned into that,” Syd Harris, director of brand and content for Betway said at a recent sports betting conference. “We know people are watching and betting on women’s sports. If someone comes in amid the excitement of March Madness, how do you continue that?”

Props bets. Multiple sports offer Clark props and futures and business is brisk. Bet365 trading leader Aron Wattleworth said that interest in Clark’s team hasn’t followed suit. Though the Fever’s odds have shortened at bet365, the team comprised just 7% of outrights there as of Monday. This figure is up from two years ago, however, and similar to New York Liberty interest after acquiring stars Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones.

“As opposed to where the game line action may or may not rise for [Indiana], one thing for sure is Clark will likely often have more action on her player props than some game spread/moneyline/total action for [Indiana],” Wattleworth observed. “Looking at how the game and the betting around it has grown for the WNBA, the player prop action has also grown exponentially with it. With so many good players around the league, it’s most often the case that the most popular/best-performing players see the most action for their games.”

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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