The WWE Allegedly Wants To Legalize Betting On Wrestling Matches, And I Think It's A Terrible Idea

Baron Corbin and JBL playing Poker in the WWE
(Image credit: WWE)

Legalized betting has run rampant through the professional sports world in the United States, and it's almost impossible to turn on a game anymore without hearing the betting lines for matchups, or seeing an ad for one of the big dogs in the betting industry. The WWE has even dabbled in it via free betting pools on DraftKings, but the organization is now allegedly aiming to fully legitimize gambling on matches in the future. As someone who regularly bets on sporting events that aren't widely known to be partially scripted ahead of time, I think it's a terrible idea, especially after considering how it may negatively impact pro wrestling as we know it. 

It's reported that the WWE is in talks with a few state gambling regulators and is attempting to legitimize betting on major matches. According to CNBC, the WWE is working with Ernst & Young accounting firm, which has worked on the results for the Academy Awards and Emmys in the past, to figure out a way that this lofty goal can be reached. The report alleges that WWE execs have allegedly spoken to gambling officials in Colorado, Michigan, and Indiana about legalizing bets for their higher-profile matches. 

The central thought is that the WWE can arrange a way to script its matches, while going harder on preventing those pre-determined results from being leaked out. While it doesn't appear as if the WWE and Ernst & Young have a concrete plan in place just yet to go about handling everything like securing the match results and preventing tampering or corruption, it's reported that the companies are using the template for betting on the Academy Awards as proof of concept for how this could work. Votes for the Academy Awards are done in advance, but the results are only known by a few people until the results are revealed on the night of the event. Even so, the process hasn't kept that kind of betting free from controversy, and it's also not available to take part in nationwide. 

Why I Think Betting On WWE Matches Is A Bad Idea

Even if the WWE is only looking to legitimize betting on major matches like WrestleMania, SummerSlam, or the Royal Rumble, I still can't say I like the idea of this happening. One would think that the WWE would need to lock down the results of key matches long before the night of the event, and once they're in, they couldn't be changed. 

As such, I think fans can say goodbye to the idea that their cheers and feedback could impact the trajectory of a wrestler finding their way into the main event or a title opportunity. While the WWE doesn't always cater to its audience, there are certainly notable runs over the past decade in which one could argue fan response led to a title opportunity or win for a wrestler. Kofi Kingston's long-awaited championship run feels like a great example, as does the recent rise of Sami Zayn

I'm also struggling to understand how oddsmakers would justify which wrestler is favored over the other. Match statistics aren't really indicative of whether or not a wrestler will win or lose their title match. And what if the match ends in disqualification? Does a screwy finish result in a no-bet, and gamblers get a refund? 

I'm sure these are the same questions these state regulators are asking, and that the WWE is doing its best (or some such thing) to answer them. We'll have to wait and see if the plan actually goes through, and if it does, what a world where WWE allows betting will look like. 

WrestleMania 39 isn't too far off now, and those with a Peacock Premium subscription will be able to watch it live on Saturday, April 1st, and Sunday, April 2nd.   The WWE has been slowly locking down its matchups for the two-night event, so be sure to check our list of who is confirmed to have a match and any last-minute additions to the night before it kicks off.  

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.