‘Caitlin Clark Effect’ Boosts Sports Betting

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‘Caitlin Clark Effect’ Boosts Sports Betting
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Caitlin Clark, the popular rookie guard for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, is generating betting action at sportsbooks going into the summer months, according to industry insiders.

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a California-based research and consulting firm, said the “Caitlin Clark effect is real and helping grow WNBA handle exponentially, even if from a small base.”

“That's especially helpful for books as we head deeper into the summer months and WNBA can help supplement (Major League Baseball) as daily betting content,” the firm said in a statement.

After the NBA playoffs end in June and before football season begins in the late summer, sports betting sometimes can slow down.

The NFL preseason begins with an Aug. 1 game between the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The college football season starts in late August, highlighted by the Sept. 1 Vegas Kickoff Classic between USC and LSU at Allegiant Stadium just west of the Las Vegas Strip.

That gives the WNBA much of the summer to continue boosting enthusiasm among fans and bettors. The WNBA season began in May and ends Sept. 19. The latest possible date for the WNBA title game is Oct. 20.

Enthusiasm for the WNBA already is in full stride. Eilers & Krejcik reported that the sports betting handle in Indiana grew by 35% during May.

“Some of that was NBA-driven, as the Pacers reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2014 and played 13 playoff games in May," Eilers & Krejcik noted. "However, channel checks suggested Caitlin Clark, the No. 1 overall pick of the Indiana Fever, was helping WNBA betting ‘sky-rocket.’”

 Eilers & Krejcik said it heard from one operator that the WNBA handle "was roughly three times higher than the same period last year, with Fever games accounting for nearly a third of total WNBA handle."

"That's after a record handle on the women's NCAA tournament in March," the firm said.

This year, Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes advanced to the NCAA women’s title game, losing 87-75 to the South Carolina Gamecocks, despite 30 points from Clark, the highest point total by any player on either team.

WNBA Rookies Attract Record Numbers

Clark, the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history among women and men, is a popular member of the WNBA's rookie class, including LSU’s Angel Reese of the Chicago Sky, credited with attracting record attendance and television viewership to WNBA games.

In a recent news release, the WNBA, now in its 28th season, noted that the league this year already has set records for merchandise sales, social media engagement, League Pass subscriptions and app downloads with triple-digit growth across all categories.

“The opening night matchup featuring the Indiana Fever vs. the Connecticut Sun (May 14) averaged 2.12 million viewers across ESPN2, ESPN+ and Disney+, peaking at 2.34 million viewers, making it the most-watched WNBA game on Disney platforms ever,” the league news release noted.

Casey Lewless, Penn Entertainment sportsbook manager at the Margaritaville and Boomtown casinos in Northwest Louisiana, told Gambling.com that Clark "is changing the landscape of women’s basketball."

"The reason is not just because she became the all-time leading scorer, but it’s because she does it with Stephen Curry-like flair," Lewless said. "With the Euros, Copa América and the Olympics, the WNBA has made it a great summer of betting."

Fever Favored In Mystics Rematch

Coming off a 91-83 win Sunday against Chicago behind Clark’s 23 points, Indiana (5-10) next plays on Wednesday, June 19, at home in the Gainbridge Fieldhouse against the Washington Mystics (2-12).

Indiana is favored by 4.5 points, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

On June 7, the Fever traveled to Washington, D.C., defeating the Mystics, 85-83.

With online betting legal states, like Indiana and Washington -- and in 37 other states.

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