Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect PlayMichigan’s position.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who had this reaction when reading CNBC’s report that WWE was talking with regulators to legalize betting on matches.
How would that even work?
The immediate reaction I, and probably most of you had is exactly why this isn’t a good idea.
I think this report is a lot more sizzle than it is steak. It got people talking, but isn’t likely to occur.
But, if there is any reality to the report, the Michigan Gaming Control Board would be going a long way to damage its credibility by legalizing WWE betting.
Opinions on WWE betting from a wrestling fan
Just for complete clarity, I am a pro wrestling fan. I was hooked in as a kid starting with WrestleMania 3 (Steamboat vs. Savage > Hogan vs. Andre).
I’ve tried to “grow out of it” at times in my life, but I never could kick it. It’s just too entertaining to me.
While there may have been a time in my childhood where I believed what I was watching was real, I am 99.9% sure that is no longer the case. Hope you can read sarcasm.
What pro wrestling is a live-action soap opera with a lot of stunt work and pageantry.
What pro wrestling is not, is a sport.
Never has been, never will be.
CNBC reports WWE spoke with Michigan regulators
On Wednesday, CNBC’s Alex Sherman reported that the WWE was in talks with gambling regulators in Michigan and Colorado to legalize betting on high-profile matches.
Sherman indicated that WWE was working with Ernst & Young to secure scripted match results. They also would look to make sure there’s no chance of results leaking to the public.
Interestingly enough, Sherman posted on Twitter that Colorado rebuked his report.
On Thursday, the MGCB indicated that a third-party consultant approached the MGCB more than a year ago about a proposal to add WWE events to Michigan’s wagering catalog. However, the agency has received no further information since.
“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,” said Henry Williams, MGCB executive director. “The WWE should work with the gaming industry if it wishes to bring a proposal before the MGCB.”
Legalizing WWE betting would damage MGCB credibility
WWE likes to call itself “sports entertainment.” That’s about as close to sports as it should ever get.
It’s somewhat ironic that this report was released during Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
I can’t think of a greater sign of problem gambling that wagering large sums of money on a predetermined event.
The legalized gambling industry has been very vocal about how irresponsible offshore sportsbooks and unregulated gambling is. If it took the step to legalizing betting on something like the WWE, it would no longer have a platform to stand on.
The MGCB cites, “operators can only offer a wager type where the results are determined on the field of play, and can be verified by a box score or statistical analysis.”
It’s the reason Michigan consumers can’t bet on entertainment prop odds like the national anthem or the Gatorade color for the Super Bowl.
WWE features predetermined outcomes that are decided by a select booking committee. The two “competing athletes” perform the moves and tell the story, but are not in control of the actual outcome of the match.
WWE betting would be open to corruption
The legalized gambling industry is very sensitive to the idea of anything being “rigged.”
We have seen hard line stances taken toward protecting the integrity of the sport when it came to gambling controversies in the NFL and the UFC. The NFL suspended Calvin Ridley for a year for betting on football. Ontario banned UFC betting temporarily after concerns of match-fixing.
That is why this idea of legalized betting on WWE makes so little sense and is so unlikely to happen. WWE is literally match-fixing.
While the idea that the predetermined match results wouldn’t get leaked, multiple people would know the outcome in advance. Those people may not make the wagers themselves, but they could provide information to friends, family or third parties for them to cash in.
If the WWE makes deals with sportsbooks, it also opens their product to be influenced by the sportsbooks themselves.
Should a lot of money be riding on one competitor to win, what would stop the sportsbook from influencing the WWE to make the opposite happen and avoid taking a big hit to the pocket?
Just look at the WWE’s history, especially Vince McMahon. Integrity isn’t a word that should be closely associated with him or his product.
Oh, by the way, the WWE is also for sale. Are gambling regulators really going to give this a green light and then have new ownership kick in?
Keep pro wrestling at free-to-play pools
Pro wrestling does already have somewhat of a connection to Michigan online sportsbooks.
DraftKings Sportsbook MI has been running free-to-play pools for high-profile events in WWE and in All Elite Wrestling.
These pools have users answer a series of questions about an upcoming event. Those that answer the most correctly win a share of a prize pool.
Nothing great is at stake, with minimal winnings given to the top players and no user losing any of their own money to play.
This is a safe, easy and effective way for pro wrestling to be associated with sports betting.
If WWE betting happens, what’s next?
Let’s have some fun.
Should WWE betting become legalized, what are some of the next logical betting options?
I have a few thoughts:
- Harlem Globetrotters vs. Washington Generals
- Adonis Creed vs. Rocky Balboa
- Skip Bayless vs. Stephen A. Smith: The Ultimate Debate
- The Boys: Who will kill Homelander?
- The Voice: How many times will Blake Shelton turn his chair?
- Premier League Coach of the Year: Ted Lasso or Nathan Shelly?
These are all clearly ridiculous options that you might actually find on an offshore sportsbook.
Just this week the MGCB began a new campaign for Problem Gambling Awareness Month. They call it “Don’t Regret The Bet.”
Should WWE betting ever become legal, it will be as regrettable as it gets for the MGCB and the legalized gambling industry.