FanDuel says Iowa-LSU game was its biggest betting event of all time for women’s sports

Caitlin Clark, #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes, celebrates after beating the Lousiana State University Tigers 94-87 in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena in Albany, New York, on April 1, 2024.

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

The superstar women’s college basketball matchups Monday night attracted more than just viewers — the games also set new sports betting records.

FanDuel tells CNBC that the Louisiana State University versus Iowa game was its biggest betting event of all time for women’s sports.

The record betting comes as women’s sports have hit an inflection point, reaching bigger audiences and garnering more interest than ever with the rise of once-in-a-lifetime superstar talent such as Caitlin Clark and increasing valuations of women’s sports franchises.

ESPN says viewership of the women’s Sweet 16 was its most watched on record, up 96% from last year. Viewership is spilling over into the sportsbooks with record activity on women’s sports. Yet, with only 26% of bettors being women, according to the American Gaming Association, sportsbooks see the massive opportunity.

Monday’s LSU-Iowa game featured a heated rematch between two storied franchises, household names Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, plus coaching legend Kim Mulkey, whose leadership style has been capturing recent headlines. All that combined made it the No. 1 betting event Monday, ahead of all National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games, FanDuel said. The game garnered a 28% increase in handle over the 2023 Women’s National Championship game.

The later matchup between the University of Connecticut and the University of Southern California was the third-highest of the day for the sportsbook as fans watched star Paige Bueckers score 28 points and grab 10 rebounds in UConn’s 80-73 win.

“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,” Karol Corcoran, senior vice president and general manager of FanDuel Sportsbook, said in an email.

DraftKings says women’s basketball also dominated its sportsbook Monday night. The women’s basketball games were its top two events last night, ahead of every MLB and NBA game, a spokesperson told CNBC.

The sportsbook said from a handle perspective, the games were on par with many NFL games from last season.

BetMGM also had a big night, saying the Iowa-LSU matchup was its most bet-on women’s basketball game ever.

“It was a special night for the game and for the sportsbook as we saw record handles in both pregame and live in-play action,” said Seamus Magee, trading manager at BetMGM.

Looking ahead to the women’s Final Four, FanDuel says Iowa is a 2.5 point favorite over UConn and South Carolina is an 11.5 point favorite over NC State as the Wolfpack go for an upset.

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