WWE Eyes an Entrance into Betting

It’s a story that has garnered a lot of attention this week, largely from media outlets who are more than a little skeptical of the WWE’s plans – to put it nicely. At first glance I was also. But after digging into it and giving it a little thought, I’m now thinking it could be worth a shot at least.

The most glaring issue most people will leap to right away is that WWE matches are scripted. However, we have betting on awards shows and various other events with similar issues. So the WWE does have a valid point when they bring this up. They proposed a similar solution – locking the results up months before, with knowledge limited to only a few WWE executives and one outside source for independent verification. The wrestlers and crew would only know hours before the match, and presumably after betting had closed.

Also worth noting that none of this has stopped the gray-area networks from running their own WWE bets. And while the WWE has had more than its share of controversies and scandals, the betting on matches would almost certainly be under such close scrutiny that it would be foolish to try. One notable exception though, and likely the worst case scenario, would be a major sportsbook somehow gaining access to the results info early. Sportsbooks and gaming regulators are certainly no stranger to risk, so to nix the idea purely on that would be rather out-of-character for them. Also the AGA was just recently highlighting the need to appeal to a wider audience and to keep up with offshore options.

One of the most interesting things from all of this isn’t about the WWE or wrestling at all though. It’s that something like this could open the door to all kinds of other betting on similar formats, primarily television series but also possibly other forms of entertainment. I know that many traditional bettors won’t really like it, but they don’t have to bet on it. It would bring in new demographics and just could be a fun little bet on something different for a change. For creators, it would provide a wealth of insights with very high accuracy.

Once this door is open, regardless of what triggered it, it’s logical to expect a rapid expansion as operators rush to open markets on all sorts of things. The offerings of prediction markets seem like a reasonable starting point. But a major obstacle here is the high fee rate baked into the odds, especially for smaller niche markets. The industry is simply too inefficient (and greedy) at this time, and rendered unable to capitalize on these kinds of opportunities. But they do exist for future entrepreneurs, who would be wise to explore a wide range of potential markets.

It’s unlikely the WWE will get much action regardless, as they’re only proposing to a few states at this time and would be lucky to get just one. And even if they can convince states, they still have to convince the operators themselves. Also the WWE has been shopping itself around to buyers, with some preliminary bids coming up soon. So maybe they are just throwing out all sorts of ideas, in hopes of inflating their valuations a bit more. But the simplest answer is that they have seen all of the extra engagement that betting has brought to other sports, and want in on the action. But will scripted results have too negative of an impact on prospective bettors?

All in all, it’s hard to hate against the idea of WWE betting in principle. As long as sportsbooks aren’t gouging them in odds too badly, which they probably will. The main thing though is that if the WWE can reasonably secure the results, then let the fans have a little fun.

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