Basketball bettors are lucky. While baseball season shuts down for the winter, football ends in February, and hockey isn’t contested throughout the summer, basketball is available for wagering throughout the year.
Wait, doesn’t college basketball season end in April, and doesn’t the NBA wrap up in late June with the NBA Finals? Yes, that’s true. But what you may be forgetting about is the WNBA, the other pro league in North America and the only one that plays games throughout the hot summer months.
In case you aren’t that familiar with the WNBA and how to bet on it, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide. After reading it, you’ll feel like a WNBA expert and be ready to start wagering on some exciting women’s basketball action!
Betting on the WNBA can be a bit of a challenge. Since betting interest in the league ranks well behind the NBA and men’s college basketball, many gambling sites don’t promote WNBA betting that heavily. In fact, some sites may not even offer it at all.
But don’t let that discourage you from betting on the WNBA. Less-popular leagues can be the most profitable to bet on because the oddsmakers don’t pay that much attention to them, focusing their time instead on making sure they have the sharpest odds for the more heavily-bet leagues.
Just make sure you don’t simply join the first betting site you can find that offers WNBA betting. There are a lot of sites out there with shady histories when it comes to payouts or honoring bonuses. The best WNBA betting sites are the ones who have been around for a while, have solid reputations, and have strong bonus programs.
Here are the sites we recommend most for WNBA betting.
As we mentioned earlier, betting options for the WNBA can be limited because there isn’t as much action on the games. For example, you won’t find anywhere near as many player and game props for a WNBA contest as you will for an NBA game, and live betting isn’t as common, either.
However, there are still several ways to place a wager on WNBA action. Here are the most common ones.
When you bet the moneyline on a WNBA game, it’s as simple as picking the team that you think will win the game. A bet on the favorite will require you to risk more than you hope to win, while a successful wager on the underdog will reward you with more money than you risked. The ratio of what you risk to what you can win is based on the oddsmaker’s estimation of each team’s probability of winning the game.
Point spreads allow you to bet either team in a WNBA game at close to even odds. If you bet on the favorite, they’ll have to win the game by more points than the point spread in order for you to win your bet. Otherwise, the underdog will “cover the spread,” cashing tickets for any bettor who took them.
For example, if the Sparks are 3.5-point favorites over the Mercury, any bet on the Sparks would require them to win by 4 points or more. The Mercury would win against the spread if they either won the game outright or lost by 3 points or less.
When you don’t have a strong feeling about which team will win the game, or you don’t like the odds being offered, the over/under is another option you can consider. Over/under is when you wager on whether there will be more points (over) or fewer points (under) scored in a game than the total that is posted by the oddsmakers.
One last common way to bet on the NBA is by betting futures. The most popular futures wager is which team will win the league championship that season, although some sites may also offer odds on which team will win the Western or Eastern Conference. A benefit of betting futures is that you can win a lot on a small wager, especially if you bet on an underdog.
In a league that’s as small as the WNBA, it’s not uncommon to see one or two teams dominate for an extended period of time. Even though the WNBA has only been around since 1997, it’s already seen four franchises reach the finals in three consecutive years, while two others made finals appearances three times in four-year spans.
The Houston Comets were the WNBA’s first dynasty, claiming the championship in each of the league’s first four years of existence. However, Comets fans may have been spoiled by all of that immediate success. Following the retirement of superstar Cynthia Cooper in 2000, the Comets won just one playoff series in the next eight years and saw their attendance numbers plummet. In 2008, the team folded after no one was interested in purchasing the franchise.
Here’s a quick look at the most successful teams in the WNBA in recent history.
The Lynx had their share of growing pains in their early years, finishing below .500 in 10 of their first 12 seasons and failing to win a playoff series during that span. But after hiring Cheryl Reeve as their head coach in 2010 and making some shrewd roster moves, Minnesota has absolutely dominated the WNBA over the past decade. Going into 2018, the Lynx had reached the finals six times in the past seven years, including four championships, and boasted a regular-season record of 182-56 during that span.
Los Angeles is tied for the second-most titles among active WNBA franchises (three), including a title win in 2016 over Minnesota, and came within one victory of their second straight championship in 2017. But as impressive as the Sparks’ playoff success has been, they’ve been even more consistently great during the regular season. LA qualified for the playoffs in 16 of its first 20 years of existence, the most postseason appearances of any team in the league.
The Mercury is always one of the league’s most dangerous teams once the postseason begins. Phoenix had won at least one series in each of its nine playoff appearances going into the 2018 season, winning 33 of 56 postseason games during that stretch. All of that playoff success includes three WNBA titles, the last of which came in 2014.
The WNBA’s best players don’t get anywhere near the limelight, media coverage, and endorsement deals that the men do in the NBA, but don’t let that fool you. There have been many exceptional talents to come through the WNBA ranks over the years, some of whom are still in the league today.
Here’s a look at three of the top players in the WNBA going into the 2018 season.
The Mercury guard is already the highest-scoring player in WNBA history, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Although she turns 36 in 2018, Taurasi, whose lethal sharpshooting earned her the nickname “White Mamba” from Kobe Bryant himself, has averaged nearly 18 points per game over the last 2 years. With three WNBA titles, a league MVP, two finals MVPs, four Olympic gold medals, and the WNBA rookie-of-the-year award on her resume, there aren’t many accolades in women’s basketball that Taurasi has yet to claim.
Parker has been a dominant player in the WNBA ever since her first year in the league when she became just the third professional American basketball player ever to win rookie of the year and MVP in the same season. The Sparks power forward/center simply does it all, going into 2018 with an average of 17.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game in her career. A two-time league leader in rebounds, Parker’s numbers would be even more astounding if she hadn’t missed approximately 50 games due to injury and pregnancy early in her career.
Considering all that she’s accomplished in the first seven years of her WNBA career with the Lynx, Moore may end up going down in history as the league’s greatest player ever. The small forward was the youngest player named to the WNBA Top 20@20 (a list of the league’s best players of all time) in 2016, and she’s averaged nearly 20 points per game during her postseason career. Moore, who won’t turn 30 until 2019, already has four league titles, a finals MVP, league MVP, and regular-season scoring championship on her mantle.
Though the WNBA was founded in 1996, the first women’s pro basketball league in the United States actually came nearly 20 years earlier. Unfortunately, the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) was poorly organized and even more poorly supported, lasting just three seasons, from 1978-81, before it folded.
Understanding the importance of a strong foundation to build on, organizers of the WNBA ensured that their new league was fully backed by the NBA. The WNBA’s inaugural logo had a similar look to the NBA’s, and the first eight franchises in league history (Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, Sacramento Monarchs, Utah Starzz, Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets, and New York Liberty) were all located in cities that already had NBA franchises. That allowed the WNBA teams to share the same arena as NBA squads, as well as benefit from cross-promotion since the first WNBA season began right after the 1996-97 NBA season ended.
The WNBA added eight more teams within the next three years, expanding to NBA cities like Detroit, Washington, Orlando, Minnesota, Indiana, Seattle, Miami, and Portland. Even more, expansion was planned at that time, especially after the American Basketball League (the WNBA’s main competition) folded in 1999, but a lockout in the NBA that year saw WNBA viewership drop dramatically as well. By 2002, the NBA sold its ownership of all WNBA franchises, two teams had moved, and two others (Miami and Portland) had folded.
Some tough times followed for the league throughout the 2000s, with several more teams either folding or relocating. But the WNBA continued to persevere, thanks in part to the influence of former NBA star Bill Laimbeer (who engineered the Detroit Shock’s turnaround from a last-place finish in 2002 to a league title the following season) and ex-NBA championship-winning coach Paul Westhead (who led the Mercury to their first-ever championship in 2007).
Ironically, a turning point for the WNBA was another NBA lockout in 2011, which allowed the WNBA to gain increased coverage from networks such as NBA TV, ESPN, and ABC. An influx of young talent helped as well, improving the quality of play in the league and leading to growth in attendance. The WNBA also began to enjoy the benefits of its longevity, as females who had grown up watching the league were finally old enough to start playing in it.
Today, the league now sits at 12 teams, including four of its original franchises (Los Angeles, New York, and Phoenix have remained in the same city, while the Utah Starzz are now the Las Vegas Aces). Increased revenue from sponsorships and television contracts has also enabled many of the teams in the league to become profitable. Although the WNBA will never be as popular as the NBA or even men’s NCAA basketball, the future of the league looks brighter in 2018 than it ever has before.
WNBA betting can be done in several different ways. You can bet on the games at sportsbooks in Las Vegas and anywhere else that single-game gambling is legal and regulated, you can wager over the telephone, or you can use online betting sites.
Of all these options, online betting sites are easily the one that we recommend the most. Unless you live in Nevada or in Europe, you probably don’t have a sportsbook near you that you can just walk into to place a bet, and betting over the phone sounds convenient until you need to actually prove the wagers that you placed.
Online betting sites are accessible anywhere you go and couldn’t be any easier to use. As long as you’re using one that is regulated in the jurisdiction where it is located, you aren’t breaking any laws. Many of them also offer big sign-up bonuses for new players, and the fact that you can only bet with money in your account prevents you from losing more than you can afford.
Just make sure that you’re only using the best WNBA betting sites online. If you need help deciding on which one to join, make sure to read our reviews and rankings to ensure that you make the right choice. Other than that, good luck betting the WNBA, and have fun!