Last month, the WWE sent tongues wagging — and elbows flying — after CNBC published a report claiming the scripted sports entertainment product was in talks with both Michigan and Colorado regulators in an effort to allow people to wager on the outcome of pro wrestling matches.
Colorado officials quickly poured water on the report, saying no one at the Colorado Division of Gaming was involved in any talks on the matter. Officials at the Michigan Gaming Control Board, however, were a little more coy with their denial, confirming that a “third-party consultant approached the MGCB more than a year ago about a proposal to add WWE events,” but that conversations ended there.
Well, it’s quite possible we haven’t heard the last of the potential for betting on WWE events. Monday morning, in a joint press release with UFC parent company Endeavor Group Holdings, a long-anticipated WWE-UFC merger was announced, with Endeavor holding 51% of the operation and WWE shareholders 49%.
— Endeavor (@Endeavor) April 3, 2023
As a result of this marriage, the lines to sports betting are pretty clear, as legal UFC wagering is already popular and Endeavor also owns OpenBet, a content, platform, and service provider to sportsbooks — including DraftKings and FanDuel, the clear market leaders in America.
“The addition of OpenBet to our sports betting portfolio will enable us to further capitalize on the massive tailwinds in the fast-evolving sports betting ecosystem and lead the way in defining the future of sports betting entertainment,” Ari Emanuel, the CEO of Endeavor, said at the time.
Back to the regulators?
Emanuel, who was the inspiration for Ari Gold in HBO’s Entourage, clearly isn’t one to sit on the sidelines and watch the world pass by. Which begs the question: With sports betting already all over the Endeavor footprint, is the next step going back to state regulators to try and convince them to bring WWE to America’s sportsbooks?
According to the original CNBC report, the idea would be that results of future WWE matches would be locked down with the accounting firm of EY (Ernst & Young). This is the method awards shows use to keep winners a secret, and some states allow betting on the Oscars. So that was the math WWE officials were using in their reported — and, apparently, failed — efforts.
But now, with the weight of Emanuel and Endeavor — along with the company’s flag plant in the betting space with OpenBet — it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise for the newly formed company to double down in their efforts to bring WWE to legal wagering markets.