Authorized betting on WWE matches? NFW, playing operators say

Becky Lynch celebrates defeating Bianca Belair at SummerSlam 2021.

World Wrestling Entertainment

It’s clear why World Wrestling Entertainment would like headlines about the prospect of bettors being legally allowed to wager on scripted games and not all has to do with trying to boost the company’s potential selling price.

Betting increases fan engagement. Just ask NFL, MLB, the NCAA – even the people who organize table tennis. They all find a great benefit in allowing fans to bet on the games.

Massachusetts just introduced mobile betting on Friday, but nobody there can legally bet on Friday Night SmackDown matches. “WWE is not a recognized sports league,” states the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Colorado regulators aren’t happy about the prospect even going public. “The Colorado Division of Gaming is not ready at this time and has not considered allowing sports betting on WWE games,” they said. “At no time has a Colorado state gaming regulator spoken to WWE about including bets on our approved betting list.”

Colorado law prohibits “betting on events with a fixed or predicted outcome or purely at random,” and that includes the Academy Awards. Seven other states allow Oscars betting in some form. Indiana and New Jersey do not allow live betting and have caps on stakes.

Like most states, Michigan only accepts requests from gambling operators or platforms, and WWE hasn’t even made a request, according to the state’s Gaming Control Board. It issued a public statement advising WWE to work with the gaming industry.

This can be an even bigger hurdle than getting past gaming regulators.

“NFW!” Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM, replied if he would be willing to take wagers on WWE’s scripted matches. BetMGM is the US leader in iGaming or online casino games. He was speaking at iGamingNext, an industry conference, earlier this week. (NFW stands for “no f—-ing way”. Talk about a smackdown!)

FanDuel’s response wasn’t quite as colorful or as public, but a spokesman said it was highly unlikely the national sports betting leader would ever take a bet.

DraftKings declined, saying it was up to regulators.

FanDuel , owned by Flutter Entertainment, says allowing bets on the Oscars once a year is very different than contemplating the enormity of weekly script programming, at least twice a week by WWE.

The legal gambling industry attaches great importance to avoiding scandals. The American Gaming Association, which represents both commercial and tribal operators, told CNBC, “Both regulators and operators need to have confidence in the integrity of the competitions.”

Gambling insiders are skeptical that the large amount of effort and risk involved in betting on scripted events is worth what is probably pretty modest in terms of betting activity.

“Ultimately, most industry stakeholders seem to view WWE betting as even more visually challenging than betting on awards shows,” said Lloyd Danzig, managing director of Sharp Alpha Advisors.

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