Last week, it was announced that WWE was in talks with state gambling regulators to legalize betting on predetermined matches. The news took the internet by storm, with most confused about how it would all work out, while also not being surprised as it was only a matter of time before the company tried its luck getting involved in the rise of sports betting.
On the surface, it doesn’t sound like a completely terrible idea. Professional wrestling is incredibly mainstream, with WWE’s popularity increasing over the past 12 months. But looking at the details of how it could take place, it’s immediately evident why it is not a good idea.
Why is WWE trying to get involved with gambling on matches?
Because sports betting has become legalized in several states nationwide, the company is likely hoping to capitalize on its popularity. Not only would it bring in more money, but it would also bring in more viewers who may not have watched the programming previously but will due to the addition of betting.
Not to mention, the idea has been floated by Vince McMahon himself, who is probably hoping involving professional wrestling in the sports gambling sphere could boost their chances of selling the company since no other wrestling promotions are currently involved with it.
How would someone bet on a match?
The current idea is that matches and their outcomes would be determined much further in advance than they are at the moment, like months before the date of the event, something the company does not currently do.
WWE has assured the state regulators they’ve spoken to in Colorado, Indiana, and Michigan that fewer people would be told the results of a match to lessen the chances of results being leaked. That is said to include the superstars involved in those matches, as well.
"“Allowing gambling on certain WWE matches would alter how matches are produced – and how storylines are created. In discussions about how gambling on wrestling could work, WWE executives have proposed that scripted results of matches be locked in months ahead of time, according to people familiar with the matter. The wrestlers themselves wouldn’t know whether they were winning or losing until shortly before a match takes place, said the people.For example, the WWE could lock the results of Wrestlemania’s main event months ahead of time, based on a scripted storyline that hinged to the winner of January’s Royal Rumble. Betting on the match could then take place between the end of the Royal Rumble and up to days or even hours before WrestleMania, when the wrestlers and others in the show’s production would learn the results.”"
Is this something that could actually work?
In simple terms, no.
The landscape of wrestling is constantly changing and adapting, with fans determining what they’re interested in or not. A lot of what we see on WWE programming is the direction the creative team believes they should be going in. However, the audience’s reaction to storylines and particular wrestlers can dramatically change the shows moving forward.
Agreeing to script storylines and matches months in advance would be a gigantic mistake and makes absolutely no sense.
One week, a talent is loved by an audience, and people are interested in what’s going to happen, and the next week, they’re barely getting a reaction. It’s just how the business is; you must keep up with the latest movement.
Imagine how quickly Sami Zayn’s storyline with the Bloodline would have ended had betting been allowed during the time. We certainly would not have seen Zayn vs. Reigns at Elimination Chamber because how would they have known that fans would be passionately behind Zayn’s character and story?
It’s unfathomable to think about a current WWE without the success of Zayn’s involvement in that storyline over the past year, and it’s well on its way to being one of the best in the history of the business, deservedly so.
Are sportsbooks showing interest in adding WWE?
It seems more apparent than ever that this is a situation that can be summed up with one phrase: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The way storylines are created and presented on TV could be better than it is, but it’s working, and people are entertained. Risking losing key fans of the product in the hopes of joining a current trend would be a foolish decision.