World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has the desire to include itself in the sports betting industry across the country.
WWE wants to include itself as a sport you can bet on in legal states. That would put it on the table for Indiana sports betting.
The issue with betting on WWE matches is the simple fact they are scripted. This is not a sport in the way that two factions battle to be the winner. Before any WWE match takes place, the outcome is predetermined.
So how would the WWE even attempt to pitch such an idea? Let’s unpack everything at play here by outlining the WWE’s plan to bring sports betting to its biggest matches and events across its brand.
WWE’s plan to bring sports betting to its biggest events
In simple terms, WWE wants to allow sports betting on scripted events such as the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. Both are massive moments each year for the brand.
This would help the WWE attract new fans via sports betting. It could also help create new pathways toward diversifying and creatively repurposing its product.
At this time, the tectonic plates that make up the foundation of the WWE are shifting dramatically. Vince McMahon stepped down as the WWE’s creative director amid sexual misconduct allegations. Paul Levesque – formerly known by his wrestling name Triple H – has taken over that role and McMahon’s former duties.
Despite McMahon stepping down in July, he returned to the WWE’s board in January. As an executive chairman, McMahon is assisting in selling the WWE company.
World Wrestling Entertainment plans to meet with potential buyers over the next month. It is preparing for first-round offers, according to CNBC. CNBC also reported there is no assurance a sale would come from these first rounds of bids.
So, with all of that uncertainty, WWE is doing what it can to make itself more profitable and wide-reaching by pushing to allow sports betting on its scripted entertainment product.
If you can bet on the Academy Awards then why not WWE?
This will be no easy task, but there is a precedent of sports betting on scripted events, i.e. the Oscars.
WWE’s plan seems to be based on the sports betting model the Academy Awards uses. Despite their secretive nature and the fact that the results are known to a small number of people, there are a few major online sportsbooks – FanDuel and DraftKings for example – that take bets on the Academy Awards in states that allow it.
That means betting on events without a live outcome has precedent. And that gives hope to the WWE and its scripted events.
To assure that the results of the Academy Awards remain a secret, it works with accounting firms such as Ernst and Young.
Because of their experience in this niche, WWE approached Ernst and Young to provide the same secrecy and security for the results of its matches. Working with a proven firm will keep the ethics of gambling on already determined events at the standard required and create more validity for sports betting on the WWE.
Unfortunately, this is where the precedent and similarities end. Where a panel of professional judges decides on the Academy Awards, however, a team of creative directors and writers script the WWE matches. That makes the Academy Awards and WWE matches fundamentally different events.
Allowing gambling on fully scripted events opens a doorway that could never be shut again. If bets can be placed on scripted events, where does the line fall? Will people be able to bet on who may or may not die on a new HBO show? Could that force writers and creative directors to be disallowed from gambling like professional athletes?
This new doorway could lead to more problems than solutions.
Indiana sports betting on WWE events is likely not happening
Indiana is one of three states WWE is targeting as a market that could approve sports betting on its events. The other two are Colorado and Michigan, according to CNBC.
The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) is already shutting down the possibility of WWE betting. That virtually ends all hope for WWE in the state since the commission isn’t willing to consider adding the sport.
The same goes for Colorado. When CNBC reached out for comment about the WWE’s hopes of legalizing betting on scripted matches in Colorado, the Colorado Division of Gaming said stated the state is not and has not considered the idea of allowing sports betting wagers on WWE matches.
Each state has language in their legislation legalizing sports betting that prohibits bets being made on scripted events or events with predictable outcomes. In Colorado, that also includes the Academy Awards.
Michigan has not shown any intention of legalizing sports betting on WWE events.
The odds do not seem to favor WWE in Indiana or beyond at this time.