Tennis might not be the most popular sport in the United States, but fans are betting on the game in droves.
One of the best-kept secrets in sports betting is that people love betting on tennis. In New York’s opening weekend, it was the fifth-most popular sport to bet on, according to data provided by FanDuel, and the fifth-biggest sport nationwide the weekend of Jan. 8. Months later, we are still seeing a massive number of tickets coming in on tennis relative to the perceived size of the sport stateside.
“Tennis tends to be one of our most popular sports and our most popular women’s sport,” FanDuel spokesman Kevin Hennessy told Boardroom.
On the first day of the Indian Wells tennis tournament out in California on Wednesday, the sportsbook told Boardroom that it had taken the most tickets on Ekaterina Alexandrova and Elvina Kalieva. It’s no coincidence that the match happened to be first up at the tournament, attracting the eyes of bettors looking for some action as they work.
The sport has quickly become a staple for most books, likely because tennis has little competition during the workday. As more bettors race to get some action in on tennis, the sport may in fact grow in popularity.
“I am certain it has caused interest in tennis to spike,” tennis commentator Brian Clark told Boardroom. “I have definitely experienced people who weren’t into tennis getting into the sport more.”
It’s a fascinating angle to sports betting that’s seldom talked about, but theoretically, if you are wagering on a sport, you’re likely to tune in and watch it, and in turn become hooked by the drama and intrigue. And, luckily, a fun benefit of betting on tennis is the live streaming, which is available on many sportsbook apps, including FanDuel.
“It really brings the tennis product to life,” Hennessy said. “It works great on desktop computers and on your phone, and we have game view and game stats.”
At Indian Wells — a Masters 1000 with a 128-player field on both the men’s and women’s sides — there is a seemingly endless number of bets you can make on a daily basis. If you’re trying to play the long game to make some coin in the futures market, you may want to take a shot on a would-be first-ever Masters champion.
“I’m going to be somewhat bold and pick Felix Auger-Aliassime,” Clark said. “Now that he has the long-awaited title, I think this is another major step he takes towards the top of the game.”
The young Canadian, who had gone 0-7 in finals at the ATP level, finally captured his first title in Rotterdam last month. He entered the week with +2000 odds to win the title as the ninth seed.
Whether you are a diehard fan of tennis or a casual bettor, the scale of the sport in the betting world is undeniable. And, as folks continue to put their money down on matches across the world, more eyeballs will be directed toward the ATP and WTA Tours — especially if they can watch on their sportsbook app.
“I’ve seen everything from people chiming in during majors to people texting me about a random third quarterfinal match in Dubai,” Clark said.
While many sports may rely on a generational talent to come along to thrust their game into the limelight or perhaps try to pour more money into marketing, sports betting can serve as an unintended marketing tool for many leagues. That’s the story with tennis, at least, and time will tell whether or not the increased number of Americans interested in the outcomes of matches will lead to a rise in ticket sales and television ratings.