Pro wrestling is scripted. The winner and loser are predetermined. While the action is “real” in the ring, the results are, quite literally, fake.
But that’s not stopping the WWE from reportedly sitting down with state gambling regulators in Michigan and Colorado in an attempt to let bettors wager on big matches. If the WWE gets its way, people will be able to bet on Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes for the Universal Title at WrestleMania.
This scoop, first reported by CNBC, goes on to say that the WWE is working with the accounting firm Ernst & Young. The results will be sealed, only Ernst & Young will have them, and the wrestlers themselves won’t know the details of who will win or lose until hours before their matches.
However, after the story was published, a spokesperson for the Colorado Division of Gaming responded to a Sports Handle query and bodyslammed the story.
“The Colorado Division of Gaming is not currently and has not considered allowing sports betting wagers on WWE matches,” said Suzanne Karrer, the communications supervisor for the regulatory body. “At no time has any state gaming regulator in Colorado spoken with the WWE about including wagers on our approved wager list. By statute, wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes or purely by chance are strictly prohibited in Colorado; this includes wagers on the Academy Awards.”
Of course, fans of award shows are familiar with “the accounting firm of Ernst & Young,” as it’s played a key part in keeping those award winners a secret for years. According to the article, the WWE pitch centers on the fact that Michigan (though not Colorado) already allows betting on award shows, so if Ernst & Young can keep those secrets, then surely it can keep the identity of who will get piledrived (piledriven?) and counted out under lock and key.
Beyond the legal aspect of all this, bookmakers would have to create odds for a match with a known outcome.
What’s next, ‘Succession’ betting?
Reporters from CNBC attempted to reach representatives of the WWE, Ernst & Young, and regulators in Michigan and Colorado, but came up empty. When Sports Handle sought to confirm the veracity of CNBC’s report, it got the following emailed reply from Mary Kay Bean, public information officer for the Michigan Gaming Control Board: “The Michigan Gaming Control Board publishes a Sports Wagering Catalog. When updates to the catalog are approved, the information is shared publicly through the agency’s website and with sportsbook operators.”
CNBC’s article goes on to wonder whether this gambit, if successful, could open up a whole new betting world where people can bet on scripted television shows. For instance, who will take over Waystar Royco as Succession comes to a close? Let’s make Tom the favorite at +200.
Additional reporting by Mike Seely
This story has been updated to include insight from Colorado Division of Gaming