Caitlin Clark Odds and WNBA Betting Taking Sportsbooks by Storm

Caitlin Clark's reshaped the NCAA records books and the visibility of women's basketball. Now, she's moved on to shifting WNBA betting markets — and in big ways. Our Jason Logan breaks it down, along with some top industry insiders.

Senior Betting Analyst
May 8, 2024 • 13:00 ET • 4 min read
Caitlin Clark WNBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Caitlin Clark’s impact on women’s basketball has been felt in every area that touches the sport, including sports betting.

Her record-breaking college career at Iowa helped betting action on NCAA women’s hoops explode the past two seasons — and not just on Hawkeyes games. That spike in public interest and action is carrying over to WNBA odds.

Clark will make her professional debut for the Indiana Fever on May 14, and sportsbooks have already felt the impact of her entrance into the league. They expect those wagers to continue throughout the 2024 season.

Catching a Fever

According to BetMGM sportsbooks, the Fever have drawn the highest bet count to win the WNBA Championship, pulling in almost 49% of the total tickets written on that 12-team market. 

That one-sided support is there despite projections that have Indiana as a .500 team in a top-heavy league dominated by the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty. Clark is also seeing the most bets placed on any player to win MVP at BetMGM, sitting as short as the third overall favorite at some operators (+950 to +1,200) in her rookie season.

Public Push

That spike in “public” betting action from the casual fan is something that wasn’t there before in past WNBA seasons.

While the league has been gaining popularity, the WNBA betting markets have always been “shark-infested waters” driven by sharper gamblers looking to exploit a niche market offering softer odds than its NBA brethren.

According to bookmakers, the Indiana Fever will be the most popular team for WNBA bettors this season, at least to begin the schedule. And those Caitlin Clark fans blindly betting Indiana’s point spreads and moneylines will influence the odds.

“The first two games they play will likely have an adjusted spread,” Aron Wattleworth, trading manager at bet365, tells Covers.

“Definitely expect more moneyline action on Indiana early on but spread action will be the main market to see a large rise in the earlier portion of the season, given the opponents they have.” - Aron Wattleworth

Odds for the opening games of the 2024 WNBA have been available for wagering since late April, with Clark & Co. opening as 5.5-point road underdogs against the Connecticut Sun on May 14. As of Wednesday morning, many books have the vig on the Fever +5.5 up to -118 (instead of -110), padding this spread in preparation for that public appeal and a move to +5 or shorter.

Driving that public play on Indiana is an increase in visibility. Causal fans are more apt to wager on games they’re watching, and the Fever will have 36 of their 40 games televised by the WNBA’s national broadcast and streaming partners — the most of any team this season. Tuesday’s opening game at Connecticut will be available on ESPN2 but will also be the first live sporting event to stream on Disney+.

“I expect the Fever games to be among the most highly wagered games this season,” Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk management for SuperBook Sports, tells Covers. “This league is still driven predominantly by sharp support, so we’ll just try to put out the sharpest line and let the public play away.”

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Clark’s Prop-ularity

The blind betting on Clark doesn’t stop at Indiana’s futures and nightly odds either. 

WNBA player props have increased at mainstream operators the past two summers but haven’t been as widely available as NBA props. That’s going to change in 2024. 

Knowing the demand for everything Caitlin Clark, more operators will offer WNBA player props — or at least isolated markets on the new face of the league. And if Clark’s influence over the NCAAW odds is any indication, the Over option on just about all statistical totals will be a popular pick. 

During Iowa’s postseason run in the NCAA Tournament, sportsbook operators were seeing more bets placed on Over offerings for Clark’s point totals and 3-point totals than any player prop from the men’s bracket. 

Based on her popularity as a player, bookmakers could see her game-to-game prop action drawing more money than the spread, moneyline, and Over/Under for Indiana’s games overall. The rapid growth in player-specific wagering stems from fantasy sports and sees superstars often outpace their own teams in terms of betting handle.

“People may not know who else plays for Miami FC, but they know Messi. They may not know all the Lakers, but they know LeBron. And although most probably can’t name more than three WNBA players, they know it’s where they can watch Caitlin Clark play,” - Wattleworth

“In that, they know where they can bet on her to score X-amount of points or make so many 3-pointers, regardless of whether her team wins or covers any spread or total.”

Bettors don’t have to wait for Clark’s debut to start wagering on her output. Many sportsbooks have a full menu of Caitlin Clark props odds available, allowing you to wager on her rookie season milestones and Over/Under props for her season scoring, assist, and 3-point averages.

Those season-long Clark props are outpacing the Fever’s futures — title odds, playoffs props, and win totals — at many sportsbooks this spring and rank among the most popular WNBA markets of the offseason.

Caitlin Tax?

If you’ve been around sports gambling long enough, you’ve heard about the bookmakers’ “Tax”. 

Books will pad their offerings on the most popular options to offset the expected flood of money from “public” bettors. Things like the “Yankee Tax” upping the cost on the New York Yankees’ moneyline or inflating the totals for primetime NFL games knowing the casual fan wants to bet the Over. 

Could Caitlin Clark’s mass appeal have a similar influence over oddsmakers when it comes to the Fever’s lines and player props?

The short answer from bookies is “No”. At least not yet. 

WNBA markets don’t draw enough public handle to force that proactive thinking, especially with sharper bettors — who outweigh the public money — exploiting any errors in the odds.

“We expect (bets on Clark) will continue in the WNBA, as long as she performs at a high level," John Ewing, PR data analyst for BetMGM says. "The trading team creates props based off of matchups. If Clark consistently goes Over her props, then the trading team will increase the prop totals."

Those books originating WNBA odds respect the sharp opinion and use those early bets to fine-tune their offerings before the bulk of wagers are placed closer to tipoff. It will be business as usual when it comes to Clark odds, despite the unusual amount of interest.

“The first two games (the Fever) will play will likely have an adjusted spread, however, it’s a tough start in the WNBA for good young players in their first years out of college. It can be a very steep learning curve.” - Wattleworth

“One thing’s for sure, all eyes will be on Clark and Indiana at the start of the season.”

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