The WNBA is continuing to expand its presence in the sports betting landscape through a partnership with PointsBet. The global sportsbook is now the league’s third authorized gaming operator, alongside FanDuel and BetMGM. PointsBet currently has a partnership with the NBA, but this deal marks its first deal with a women’s professional sports league.
The partnership is for one season, according to people familiar with the deal, but there is an expectation that the relationship will extend beyond 2021.
PointsBet will integrate the WNBA onto its betting platforms. In exchange, the sportsbook will be able to participate in WNBA sponsorship opportunities and receive additional exposure for its brand.
“We are thrilled to align with the WNBA and bring the world-class PointsBet experience to one of the most digitally-engaged fan bases on earth,” Johnny Aitken, PointsBet USA CEO, said in a statement. “The WNBA has done a phenomenal job with growing fan engagement, and PointsBet is excited to be a piece of that puzzle moving forward.”
The WNBA’s first foray into the sports betting and gaming space began in 2017, when FanDuel signed on to be the official one-day fantasy partner of the league; a multi-year extension in 2018 expanded the scope of that relationship. BetMGM also became a WNBA partner that same year when the NBA announced what was then a first-of-its-kind, multi-year partnership between the leagues and the sports betting operator, which became their official gaming partner.
“Innovating at the WNBA and enhancing the fan experience starts with recognizing how our fans want to interact with the players, teams and the league, and PointsBet will enhance a second screen experience that digitally-engaged fans are looking for,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “We’re excited to partner with PointsBet to continue expanding in the sports betting space and look forward to the innovative ideas they will bring to our game.”
Sports betting has spread rapidly throughout the country over the last three years and is now available in 25 states plus Washington, D.C. The industry generated $1 billion in revenue in 2020 in the U.S., a number that is projected to grow exponentially as more states legalize it.
Originally founded in Australia, PointsBet now adds the WNBA to its full slate of major U.S. sports, including the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. PointsBet sees upside to the league’s summer schedule, given its lack of overlap with most other professional leagues.
The WNBA was also the only major team sport to observe year-over-year television audience growth during the pandemic. The league’s average viewing audience during the 2020 regular and postseason was up 38% while other sports properties struggled.
“The growth of the WNBA has been well-documented, and the uptick of betting interest we saw from nationally televised contests in the bubble last year was truly impressive,” Jay Croucher, head trader at PointsBet, told Sportico. “We recognize the league’s potential from a sports betting sense and have high confidence that the best is yet to come—particularly given the league’s outlook with its influx of young talent, and the fact that much of the season takes place during a quieter sports calendar, mostly overlapping with MLB in the dead heat of summer.”
PointsBet is one of several new partners for the league, which has continued to grow its portfolio of supporters, most recently announcing a sponsorship deal with Google, as it looks to monetize on the current momentum behind women’s sports. The internet giant is one of four WNBA Changemaker sponsors, a top-level league partnership platform launched last year under the directive of Engelbert, the former Deloitte CEO, to find partners who can support the league financially and in development. AT&T (the league’s marquee partner and inaugural Changemaker), Deloitte and Nike round out the group.