This is the time of year when gambling fiends feast on betting lines and obsess over which games to stack on top of each other for parlays that have little chance to hit. In fact, gambling has become a part of the fabric of the sports fan experience. Matchups that feel meaningless take on value when bettings lines offer intrigue.
However, gambling companies decided to leave money on the table to start the women’s college basketball season off and didn’t offer fans any odds heading into the season opener.
There’s over 70 Divison 1 Women’s College basketball games today, with the games starting in 15 minutes.
There are zero betting lines on all major sportsbooks in America.
Absolutely ridiculous and I’m extremely disappointed.
— Dano Mataya (@drmataya) November 7, 2022
Women’s basketball continues to blow viewership numbers out of the water and, yet, gambling websites continue to ignore what has become a successful product. Take last year’s NCAA tournament for example. The athletes who made the most money were not men. Paige Bueckers received more money than the top-three men’s basketball NIL earners because of how popular she has become in the U.S. and abroad.
And yet, somehow, women’s basketball still has to prove itself to the companies who generate worldwide interest in sports. This goes deeper than thinking it’s not a strong business decision to invest in women’s sports. This is about not valuing women and their place in sports as a whole. You can’t even compare men and women’s sports betting numbers because of how scant the opportunities there are for women’s sports in that realm.
According to Forbes, 4.6 million women joined sports betting in 2021. Even if not all women watching women’s sports, their participation in gambling and on the field has risen. Throw out the moral reasons for including lines that involve women’s basketball (because we know companies don’t care about them), there is an untapped market being ignored and it comes at the expense of generating more fans of leagues that have so much potential.
Let’s play devil’s advocate: there could be a financial incentive for companies to ignore women’s sports. If they put zero resources towards implementing betting lines, they could get taken advantage of. Heading into the 2021 WNBA season, the Chicago Sky had loaded up its roster with four all-stars before the season opener. They were set to face the Washington Mystics, who were going to be without their leading scorer in Tina Charles. The Mystics had finished the 2020 season with a better record than the Sky but lost many of the pieces that helped them win the 2019 Finals. However, due to no one doing research before the game, one sports book gave the Sky +200 odds to win. Chicago ended up beating Washington by double-digits.
It would make sense to not conjure betting lines out of thin air for equity’s sake because of how much they would be taken advantage of. However, the solution is to not ignore women’s sports. It is to look at them as an investment and put money towards this market that could easily overproduce whatever expectations companies have for women’s sports now.
Unfortunately, events like today are the norm even in a world where women’s basketball and soccer are taking off. Comparing new sports leagues to ones that have been established for years is a feeble exercise except in the case of sports betting. Most fans want a taste of it and that includes women’s sports.