WWE Makes Attempts to Obtain Gambling Licence
In a curious turn of events from the betting and gaming world, the most popular professional wrestling company World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) is making attempts to enter the regulated betting industry. According to reports, WWE has approached the betting and gambling regulatory bodies in the US states of Michigan, Colorado, and Indiana in order to inquire into the potential of its wrestling matches being available to bettors and featuring on betting sites and in physical betting location. Unfortunately, there is an issue with the company’s idea, and this is the main reason why bookmakers and betting sites are not allowed to offer WWE markets – the wrestling matches are scripted.
The state of Colorado has already issued a statement on the matter:
“The Colorado Division of Gaming is not currently and has not considered allowing sports betting wagers on WWE matches. At no time has any state gaming regulator in Colorado spoken with the WWE about including wagers on our approved wager list. By statute, wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes or purely by chance are strictly prohibited in Colorado; this includes wagers on the Academy Awards.”
Meanwhile, WWE has employed accounting specialists Ernst & Young in an attempt to ensure that the scripted match results would not be leaked, and would be strictly confidential. Naturally, the regulatory bodies’ biggest concern would be that persons or entities privy to inside knowledge from within WWE would take advantage of this and would exploit betting sites and bookmakers, thus winning significant amounts. Ernst & Young however has worked with the Academy Awards in order to conceal the results and the names of the winners, and WWE is hoping that a partnership with the company would convince the regulators that there would be no potential for abuse.
The state of Michigan appears to have been more receptive of working with WWE. It issued the following statement:
The Michigan Gaming Control Board has not held direct communications with officials from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) about offering legal wagering in Michigan on its events. Any request for inclusion in Michigan’s Sports Wagering Catalog must be submitted to the MGCB by a Michigan-licensed operator or platform provider, and the agency has not received a formal request regarding WWE events wagering. The WWE should work with the gaming industry if it wishes to bring a proposal before the MGCB.
In its statement, the Board added that a third-party consultant (presumably Ernst & Young) has contacted the Board to discuss the potential inclusion of WWE events to the Michigan portfolio of betting markets, however this was over a year ago and no further communication has taken place. As a result, the idea is no further forward and bettors would not be able to find any WWE matches or markets on their favourite betting sites.
The State of Indiana has not yet commented on the situation, however it is reported that WWE has already moved ahead and submitted the required paperwork there.
Industry experts believe there might be a potential in WWE becoming a regulated betting market. While betting on individual scripted games may not interest fans, other markets may prove popular, such as individual wrestler results in a season. There would be a large number of opportunities for betting, for example knockouts, team matches, the first to leave a melee, length of time a wrestler keeps a belt etc. These specific bets, however, are a long time away, as the first step in the process would be for WWE to reassure the Michigan Gaming Control Board that no foul play would take place.
The argument WWE is going to try and present in order to have its matches included on popular betting sites is that, while its games are scripted, the results will be securely held by a third-party specialist, exactly the same way as the results of the Oscars or the Academy Awards. And, as betting on the Oscars is already legal in several US states, WWE would try to argue that betting on their games and other markets would not really be all that different. Only a very limited amount of people will know the outcome of the match in advance. There will be a window when fans will be able to gamble, then that window will close, and the wrestlers and production crew will be told what the script is.
This is certainly an interesting perspective idea from WWE and it is undoubted that wrestling fans would enjoy the opportunity to wager on their favourite wrestler or event. We will follow the situation and report any developments (or, if WWE are successful, any betting sites offering their markets) on our blog.