Negotiations in three months

WWE reportedly in talks with gambling regulators to offer betting on scripted matches

Reading time 1:48 min

Professional wrestling promotion WWE is reportedly in negotiations with US state gambling regulators to legalize betting on high-profile matches, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC. To gain approval, WWE is said to be collaborating with accounting firm EY to ensure the outcomes of scripted matches remain confidential. EY, also known as Ernst & Young, is no stranger to keeping results under wraps, having worked with award ceremonies like the Academy Awards and Emmys.

Sports betting giants FanDuel and DraftKings have made betting on the Academy Awards legal and available, though in most states it is not allowed. Executives from WWE have reportedly used the example of Oscars betting to prove to regulators that gambling on scripted matches is safe.

Though only a few are privy to the results of the Academy Awards before they are revealed, the outcomes are not scripted by writers. If gambling on WWE matches is legalized, betting companies would still have to decide if they want to offer odds on them. According to people with knowledge of the situation, such discussions have yet to take place at betting companies.

WWE is looking to expand its legal presence across the United States, reportedly eyeing Michigan, Colorado, and Indiana as potential states for legalization. WWE has allegedly already registered with the Indiana Gaming Commission, a move that has been linked to this initiative.

For its part, the Colorado Division of Gaming has said it is not considering and has not considered allowing betting on WWE matches due to a state statute that prohibits wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes, such as the Academy Awards.

If WWE succeeds in its bid to legalize gambling on matches, it could open the door for legalized betting on other guarded scripted events, such as future character deaths in TV series. Experts believe 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 would also not know whether they were winning or losing until shortly before a match took place.

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