Iowa guard Caitlin Clark vs LSU guard Flau'jae Johnson Apr 1, 2024; Albany, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) controls the ball against LSU Lady Tigers guard Flau’jae Johnson (4) in the fourth quarter in the finals of the Albany Regional in the 2024 NCAA Tournament at MVP Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Add betting to the list of things Iowa-LSU dominated. In addition to capturing the public imagination, breaking viewership records and getting the sports world chattering, Monday night’s Sweet 16 rematch of last year’s NCAA championship set online sportsbooks on fire as well.

According to multiple reports, Caitlin Clark getting revenge on Angel Reese and the Tigers broke not only women’s college basketball records on the platforms but was the most-bet on sporting event flat-out on several. The regional final in Albany was up 28% on last year’s championship tilt between Iowa and LSU.

Margaret Fleming of Front Office Sports reported that beyond basketball, the matchup featured the most bets of any women’s sports event ever on FanDuel and BetMGM.

“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,” a BetMGM trading manager told FOS.

There is still a significant gap between men’s and women’s sports betting options online. While it’s fair to debate the ethics and long-term ramifications of the sports industry’s embrace of gambling, it is clear this disparity is holding women’s sports back.

The WNBA, NWSL, women’s college sports and beyond simply do not have the same access to partnership and sponsorship revenue if the likes of FanDuel or DraftKings do not have the infrastructure to support betting on those leagues’ games. At the same time, now that sports betting is legalized in the majority of U.S. states, it is even more of a marketing opportunity for sports than ever before.

Fans will tune into and keep up with games if they have a financial interest in the outcome.

But there’s a business case, too. Millions of people tune into the women’s soccer, women’s basketball and women’s volleyball seasons these days. At the same time, many sports gambling companies are still fighting to turn a profit. They are leaving tons of money on the table by not giving these large fanbases a place to bet on games.

Just like Iowa and LSU opened eyes about the potential for sponsorship return, TV viewership and much more within women’s sports, they clearly are showing the potential for the online sports betting industry to embrace women’s sports as well.

[Front Office Sports]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.