Sports betting for the women’s NCAA is shattering records ahead of the Final Four, led by Caitlin Clark mania

Anticipation is high for the women’s NCAA Final Four tournament tonight, with prices for the cheapest women’s game tickets surpassing the cheapest men’s ticket prices by almost $200, according to data from StubHub early this morning.

In addition to increased ticket prices, the number of bets on women’s NCAA games is reaching record-breaking numbers, creating an opportunity for U.S. sports-betting operators. The Iowa-LSU Elite Eight matchup Monday, which featured stars Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, showed just how lucrative these matches could be.

Online sportsbook BetMGM told Fast Company in an email that the game was its most-bet-on women’s sporting event ever, beating out the championship last year. In addition to this, both women’s NCAA tournament games that night outperformed all six NBA games on their platform in total bets and handle (amount of money wagered).

Overall, sports betting has been on the rise all year. According to the American Gaming Association, $23.1 billion was bet on the 2024 Super Bowl, which represented a 35% increase from 2023. By comparison, only $4.6 billion was wagered on the Super Bowl in 2018, the year the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 federal ban on sports betting.

Now, in-person betting is legalized in 38 states and the District of Columbia, and 30 states allow online betting. Bettors are set to legally wager as much as $2.72 billion on the 2024 March Madness tournament, according to estimates made by the American Gaming Association.

But while increased legalization has contributed to the uptick in overall betting seen this March Madness season, Caitlin Clark mania has played a huge part, said BetMGM.

“Everyone wants to bet on her games, and it’s rolling into the games later on,” the company said.

As the season went on and demand for games grew, BetMGM increased its offerings, stating that there was a large appetite for Caitlin Clark player props (a bet on how a certain player will perform). As of Monday, Clark’s player props received the second-most bets out of all the women and men in the tournament.

Online platform Fanatics Sportsbook has seen similar record-breaking numbers, stating that the Iowa-LSU match “was in a league of its own” for women’s gameplay.

According to the company’s analysis, the game received more than two times more tickets (wagers) than any other women’s tournament contest, with the second-highest-wagered game—the USC-UConn matchup—also falling on Monday. Iowa-LSU drew the 16th-most moneyline (multi-digit amount wagered) pregame and live handle of any tournament game at Fanatics Sportsbook, beating out men’s tournament matchups including North Carolina-Alabama.

With the Final Four approaching tonight, sports-betting operators anticipate continuing to set records.

“It’s fair to say that we will break another record for Iowa’s next game . . . with the Final Four matchup, there will be a lot of interest Friday night,” Kevin Hennessy of Fanatics Sportsbook told Fast Company.

According to Fanatics, Iowa has already generated more moneyline handle for the game tonight than two of the men’s semi-finalists, UConn and Alabama.

Looking forward, the popularity in the women’s NCAA tournament could extend bets beyond college basketball, into leagues such as the WNBA and women’s soccer, creating an opening for the industry.

“It will be interesting to see if the WNBA can continue the momentum seen with college stars,” said Hennessy.