Michigan, Colorado, and Indiana were chosen as initial states. However, regulators still have concerns about allowing real-money betting on scripted and choreographed events where the outcomes are predetermined.
Since the initial report, the three states have all denied any recent talks with WWE regarding the approval of wagering on scripted events.
“By statute, wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes … are strictly prohibited in Colorado,” a Colorado state representative said.
New Hampshire Lottery Commission executive director and former prosecutor Charlie McIntyre even said, “I have a fear of accepting wagers on any event that is perceived to have an outcome that is not based upon performance, but is based upon scripted or engineered efforts.”
The option to bet on WWE matches is currently limited to some offshore sportsbooks and it would be a longshot to expect any state regulatory commission to allow such a thing.
Wrestling Inc. contacted numerous states to inquire about the potential legalization of sports betting on WWE matches.
The gambling commissions questioned state regulators regarding the likelihood of WWE’s success in proposing gambling on matches and any existing regulations prohibiting betting on predetermined outcomes.
Thirteen states responded to the inquiry — Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington.
While the responses varied, they indicated a challenging landscape with limited opportunities for the approval of legal gambling on WWE matches, with Oregon, Maryland and South Dakota outright rejecting the idea.
“Although there is no law or statute that forbids it, Oregon Lottery sports betting policy is to not accept wagers on scripted events with predicted outcomes.”
– Kerry Hemphill, Oregon Lottery manager of sports betting products
Due to integrity concerns, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Brian J. Ohorilko said that the commission had not allowed predetermined events in any of the approved wagering markets, despite no explicit prohibition for sport-related events with fixed or predetermined outcomes.
Communications director at the Connecticut department of consumer protection, Kaitlyn Krasselt specifically classified WWE as sports entertainment rather than a sport.
“It is a scripted and choreographed event that shares similarities with theatrical plays rather than real combat sports such as boxing or MMA. While the physical violence and brutality in WWE may be genuine, the results are predetermined”.
Connecticut law only allows bets on sports or athletic events, so the state prohibits wagering on events such as the Oscars.
WWE previously used award show betting as an example of legalized gambling on wrestling events, with predetermined winners only announced during the live broadcast. New Jersey is currently the only state permitting betting on the Oscars.
WWE and Endeavor’s insistence faces other issues
While some states have resisted the idea, the WWE’s parent company Endeavor is determined to continue lobbying regulators. It plans to expand the WWE brand by including a gambling element in its matches.
In March, Colorado received $5.4 million in bets on MMA events, accounting for just 1.1 percent of total bets. Considering the significantly larger fanbase and frequent events of WWE compared to MMA, it indicates the potential for higher betting activity in WWE.
If gambling on staged wrestling matches becomes legal in the United States, it will open up new revenue streams for the WWE. At the same time, it could add a sense of mainstream legitimacy to the sports entertainment house.
Even if WWE successfully secures approval for gambling on matches, however, they will still face the challenge of finding willing casinos or sportsbooks to accept wagers.