Caitlin Clark's WNBA debut dwarfs betting on last year's clinching game in the finals

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Caitlin Clark's much-anticipated WNBA debut produced record betting, far larger than the amount of money wagered on last year's clinching game for the league championship.

Betting was six times higher at Caesars Sportsbook on the Indiana Fever's 92-71 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night than Game 4 of the Las Vegas Aces' victory over the New York Liberty last season.

Clark's first regular-season game for the Fever also was the most-bet game at Caesars over any WNBA game last season.

Wagering on that game helped propel betting on the league overall, with the number of tickets up 516% at Caesars over last year's opening night and the amount of money up 84%.

“With the huge influx of talent in this year’s WNBA draft adding to an already loaded wealth of veteran players, this year’s WNBA handle will eclipse anything we have seen before," said Craig Mucklow, Caesars vice president of trading. "We expect records to be broken on a weekly basis and even more so when the NBA Finals are over and the women’s game gets additional prime-time TV spots.”

The Fever-Sun game also was the most-bet WNBA game ever at BetMGM Sportsbook, though specific numbers weren't immediately available.

Clark's over/under of 20.5 points was the most-bet proposition wager at that sportsbook in the WNBA and NBA. She scored 20 points, overcoming a slow start that included 10 turnovers for the game.

Clark was the second-most popular selection among men and women over the past week on the fantasy site PrizePicks. Only the Minnesota Timberwolves' Anthony Edwards was ahead of Clark, putting her ahead of such players as Nikola Jokic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jayson Tatum.

The number of picks on the site for all WNBA games was 185% higher than last year's opening night.

Clark has been expected to lift the WNBA to new heights, similar to what she did over the past two years in leading Iowa to the national championship game in back-to-back seasons. Her style was a big part of the increased interest in women's basketball, with Clark willing to regularly shoot from the midcourt logo as she became the NCAA's Division I all-time scoring leader in her four years with the Hawkeyes.

The Fever selected her with the No. 1 overall pick this year, but Indiana remains in rebuilding mode even with Clark and reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston. The Sun played in the WNBA Finals just two seasons ago, losing in four games to the Aces. They made the semifinals last season before losing in four games to the Liberty.

“Disappointed and nobody likes to lose, that’s how it is,” Clark said after the loss to the Sun. “Can’t beat yourself up too much about one game.”