How Sports Betting Growth Has Mirrored Increased Interest In Women’s Sports

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
women's sports betting

BetMGM and FanDuel announced that Iowa vs. LSU in the women’s Elite Eight was the most wagered-on women’s sporting event of all time. The 2023 Championship rematch between Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese was also the most viewed women’s college basketball game ever. Has the advent of sports betting across the nation aided fans’ interest in women’s sports?

Examining Sports Betting And Women’s Sports Growth

Looking at the Iowa vs. LSU Elite Eight matchup, viewership reached 12.3 million viewers on the night. During the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship in 2023, the same two teams raked in 9.9 million views, which was already a 103% increase year-over-year at that time.

The increase in viewership coincides with growth in sports betting on women’s college basketball. Men’s March Madness odds have always been a major draw for bettors. However, as sports betting increases in popularity, it has also reflected in bettors wagering more on the women’s bracket. The Iowa vs. LSU rematch is a clear example of this.

“We have seen an incredible uptick in betting on women’s sports as fans show unprecedented interest, and we look forward to seeing how fans engage during the Final Four,” said Karol Corcoran in an e-mail to CNBC. Corcoran is a senior vice president and general manager of FanDuel Sportsbook.

Sports betting in 2024 is far more popular than ever, with North Carolina sportsbooks creating the most recent new market. Now, more than 30 states are regulated. Pro leagues understand the organic growth in interest that comes from new users betting on sports. In nearly every sportsbook partnership deal between a pro team and a sportsbook, fan engagement is mentioned.

Women’s Sports Growth Reflected In Other Leagues

It is easy to dismiss the claims of growing interest in the overall popularity of athletes like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese. While it is true the Iowa vs. LSU rivalry did aid those viewership and sports betting numbers, the increase in interest in women’s sports is not a one-off occurrence.

According to Nielsen, the WNBA draft audience saw a 42% increase between 2022 and 2023. Global betting data shows that U.S. sports betting increased to $119.84 billion in handle in 2023. This was up 27.5% year over year, according to the American Gaming Association.

Basketball isn’t the only women’s sporting event to see an uptick in interest. Global interest in the 2023 Women’s World Cup also increased from 34% in 2019 to 41% in 2023.

TV Viewership and Attendance on the Rise

Television viewership has increased for women’s sports, with a record-setting 46.7 million people tuning into women’s sports in 2023. ESPN reported that the Women’s Sweet 16 saw a 96% increase in viewership year over year in 2024. The tournament has brought in 2.6 million views in the Sweet 16.

In addition to an increase in TV viewership, attendance to women’s sporting events has grown alongside sports betting. 2023 saw a jump in attendance for women’s sporting events, increasing from 2.1 million to 2.6 million year-over-year. With 2023 being the biggest sports betting year to date, there is a clear pattern to be noticed.

As sports betting continues to grow, with new markets launching every year, the increased interest in women’s sports will likely continue as well.

Can sports betting lead to permanent growth in women’s sports? Correlation does not always equal causation, but it is becoming increasingly hard to ignore this upward trajectory.

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