How many of you watch professional wrestling? World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is the world’s top wrestling promotion, and they have been a global phenomenon for decades. While based in the United States, the WWE travels the globe, bringing its sports entertainment brand to fans of all ages.
Now, the WWE is looking to have its matches available on regulated sports betting platforms in the United States. CNBC reported last week that the company is targeting three major markets to allow betting on its scripted matches. The WWE wants to convince regulators that betting on matches is no different from gambling on the Academy Awards.
WWE Looking to Legalize Betting on Scripted Matches
On Wednesday, CNBC broke the news that World Wrestling Entertainment wants to petition US state regulators to legalize betting on its matches. For those unfamiliar with professional wrestling, the product features athletic competitions between members of its rosters, but all matches are scripted.
The outcome of the matches is known ahead of time by a staff of writers and, in many cases, the wrestlers themselves. Sometimes, wrestlers do not know the actual finish until the day of the match, but a select group of people know the finish well in advance. Of course, there are times when circumstances force the company to make last-minute changes in the script.
WWE in talks with state gambling regulators to legalize betting on scripted match results https://t.co/flfOynoVdB
— CNBC (@CNBC) March 8, 2023
WWE is reportedly targeting Colorado, Indiana, and Michigan as states to pursue the legalization of betting on its matches. The company is presently registered in Indiana with the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Should regulators approve WWE betting, fans would have the ability to be on a variety of matches. The WWE produces multiple TV events weekly, including Monday Night Raw, Friday Night Smackdown, and NXT on Wednesdays. The company also has a schedule of Premium Live Events that run monthly. Summer Slam, Royal Rumble, and WrestleMania are the top PLE events in the company.
Company Points to Oscars Betting as Template
At first glance, most people would ponder how regulators could allow betting on scripted matches from the WWE. However, the WWE points to Oscars betting as a template for the company. Betting on the Oscars is currently available in Indiana, New Jersey, Colorado, and Michigan.
With so many wide open races at the #Oscars this year, there are a still a lot of betting opportunities. Here are my final winner predictions for @TheLinesUS, plus one 20-1 underdog that I think could actually pay out. It was 28-1 last night…https://t.co/1QwZUZwGay pic.twitter.com/irgGyAAmzD
— Alex Jacob (@whoisalexjacob) March 10, 2023
The results of the Oscars are tightly guarded and overseen by Ernst & Young. The WWE is working with Ernst & Young to secure its match results. The company hopes this will convince state regulators that it can keep its match results under lock and key.
Of course, if the WWE were to go this route, it may force the company to change some of its practices. The company is known to change the direction of its script, many times with scripts being revised up to the start of matches. Should the company get wrestling betting legalized, they may have to stick with scripting plans once set, with obvious exceptions for injury or other circumstances beyond the company’s control.
Some Regulators Already Pushing Back
One regulator that has effectively shot down the WWE’s plans is Colorado. According to CNBC, the Colorado Division of Gaming is not considering whether to legalize betting on the WWE. A spokesperson told the WWE that the state already has a statute prohibiting betting on events with a fixed outcome. This includes the Oscars.
Others believe that it is highly unlikely that the WWE will receive approval from state regulators for bets on its matches. However, should a regulator legalize wrestling betting, it would likely be akin to what some offshore casinos currently do.
Some offshore sites allow betting on the WWE in the prop bets section of its sites. Generally, the only odds offered are on Premium Live Event matches. Bets on weekly programs are not offered.
If regulators in the United States decide to legalize WWE betting, this could set a precedent for the rest of the gaming world. It could open up a new market form to online sportsbooks and online casinos that could tap into the niche market of pro wrestling.
The WWE is not the only wrestling company in the world that could take advantage of sports betting. New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, and a host of smaller promotions could potentially benefit from gambling expansion into pro wrestling.
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