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NCAA Women’s Tournament: Women's College Basketball Betting Explained

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 4 mins

NCAA Women’s Tournament: Women's College Basketball Betting Explained

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UConn and South Carolina meet for the national title Sunday as the NCAA Women’s tournament continues at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Those teams advanced Friday night, with the Huskies defeating Stanford and Gamecocks bouncing Louisville.

It is believed this is the 20th Women’s Championship upon which bettors can wager. There isn’t a statue or a plaque in Las Vegas that denotes the first legal wager on women’s college basketball.

Vice President of Race and Sports Operations at Westgate Las Vegas Jay Kornegay began writing tickets in Las Vegas nearly 35 years ago. He opened the Imperial Palace sportsbook in 1989. He has been with the Holy See of all brick-and-mortar books in Sin City – the SuperBook at Westgate – for nearly two decades.

If there’s a bet to be made in Vegas, it will be taken at the SuperBook.

Neither Kornegay nor his team could give Bookies.com an exact year when the SuperBook, or anyone in else in Las Vegas, began booking wagers on women’s college basketball.

The consensus is that Westgate started putting Women’s college basketball action on the board once the games were aired live on ESPN, which was 2003.

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’Still A Drop In The Bucket’

While the Women’s NCAA Tournament has enjoyed an increase in TV viewership and fan attendance in recent years, that enthusiasm has yet to be reflected when it comes to sports betting.

”The women’s games have seen a slight upward tick over the years but it’s still very minimal. In recent years, there has been a little more interest but still a drop in the bucket versus the men’s event,” Kornegay said. “The women’s game was so top heavy for many years that it hurt the overall interest. Parity could really help their game and we’ve seen a little more of that in recent years. Moving forward, the more TV coverage and parity could help the games become more relevant.”

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Director of Race & Sports Thomas Gable sees a similar trend on the East Coast at the Borgata in Atlantic City, which this year offered action on every women’s tournament game, in addition to a futures market on the overall tournament winner.

“In terms of overall handle, it’s still a minor blip in relation to everything else. But I would say that it’s definitely something I’m interested in growing and I think there is definitely potential there,” Gable said.

WynnBET – through Wynn and Encore - had a sizable brick-and-mortar presence in Las Vegas before sports betting got the green-flag to go nationwide in 2018 thanks to the Supreme Court’s PASPA ruling. The WynnBET site began taking bets on women’s NCAA Tournament action in 2021. The Wynn books in Las Vegas have been booking WNBA games for at least a decade.

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UCONN Aims for 12th National Title

“The action hasn’t been that major in the earlier rounds for the women. But, we expect there to be an uptick in handle with the Final Four being a bit more exciting and the more notable teams involved,” WynnBET Senior Trader Motoi Pearson said. “Women’s basketball in both the collegiate and pro ranks are continuing to gain more notoriety on TV and social media, and in this I believe not only will it gain more popularity in general, but we may see it as a more popular bet in the sportsbooks.”

PointsBet has enjoyed an increase in action over last year and as the women’s tournament has progressed this year. It expects, like the other books, a surge this weekend, especially given the notoriety of the teams involved.

UConn has 11 national titles under Geno Auriemma. The school made its 22nd Final Four appearance since 1991.

RELATED: Duke vs. North Carolina Final Four Odds, Picks & Predictions

The biggest tournament futures liability remaining before the Final Four at PointsBet and BetMGM was No. 1 seed South Carolina. The Gamecocks carried 20.3% of the handle at PointsBet and a whopping 39.7% at BetMGM. USC opened at +180 at BetMGM but edged up to -130 before the Final Four. NC State carried the biggest share of the pre-tournament futures handle at PointsBet (26.1%) but fell 91-87 to the Huskies in the Elite Eight.

BetMGM has offered odds on women’s basketball nationwide since PASPA’s repeal.

“We continue to see increased interest in the women’s tournament, this is partially driven by the expansion of legal sports betting into new states. We also see more action on the women’s games as the tournament progresses and we typically get high profile matchups between the best programs,” a BetMGM spokesman said.

About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.