Americans’ escape in group stage preserved meaningful U.S. betting action on the Women’s World Cup

August 5, 2023 12:54 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Anderson, Associated Press
August 5, 2023 12:54 PM
  • Mark Anderson, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The shot that hit the post in the Americans’ scoreless draw with Portugal not only allowed the defending champions to advance out of the group stage, it also preserved any meaningful betting action in the U.S. on the Women’s World Cup.

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The betting handle would have dropped by 80% had the U.S. been eliminated this week, said Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports operations at Westgate Las Vegas. He said that also will be the situation should the Americans lose in the knockout stage.

“It’s all about the U.S. team, especially the Women’s World Cup,” Kornegay said. “It’s different for the men’s World Cup because they seem to have attracted more action outside the U.S. team.”

Kornegay said betting on the Women’s World Cup in general is down this year because of the time difference with the tournament being played in Australia and New Zealand.

The times would have been much more favorable in the knockout stage if the U.S. had won its group, placing the games in windows in which most Americans would already be awake. The United States’ round of 16 game against Sweden will be Sunday at 5 a.m. EDT.

Kornegay and BetMGM trading team leader Seamus Magee said the betting handle would take a hit as a result.

“If they were to win their next maybe two games, I would expect another spike (in betting handle) no matter what time they play,” Kornegay said.

The U.S. made it out of the group stage after a scoreless draw with Portugal on Tuesday. Portugal’s Ana Capeta had what looked like the winning goal in extra time, but her shot caromed off the left post, allowing the Americans to escape a jaw-dropping defeat. The U.S. has won four World Cup titles, including the last two.

Even though betting was down on this year’s tournament, wagering on women’s sports is noticeably on the rise.

BetMGM reported it has seen more than a 40% increase in betting on women’s sports, most notably in the WNBA, tennis and golf. It doesn’t hurt that the WNBA’s best team, the Aces, is in Las Vegas. But BetMGM also is a company with wagering locations nationwide so it isn’t reliant on the Aces to carry the action.

“This has been a yearlong trend as the increase in action on women’s sports has spanned across many leagues,” BetMGM data analyst John Ewing said. “While some of the increase can be attributed to the expansion of legalized betting, women’s sports leagues have actually outpaced the growth in wagering activity compared to men’s sports leagues.”

Ewing didn’t have a breakdown of how many of the bettors were women but said he thought the increase in wagering on women’s sports is a sustainable trend.

“As more people begin to wager on women’s leagues, they’ll become interested and invested in the teams and players moving forward, which grows the sports and in turn adds more activity from the sports wagering side and so on,” Ewing said. “We predict a lot of future growth in this sector.”

Kornegay agreed the trajectory is on the way up but said Westgate’s bump has been more in the 10% to 15% range.

“I know that the dominance of the Aces is a very unique thing but it’s very competitive on the women’s side, whether it’s soccer, tennis or golf,” Kornegay said. “We’re starting to see more U.S. women in the top rankings of their respective sports, and that certainly has been part of the equation.”