- WWE has been in discussions with state gaming regulators in Colorado and Michigan to legalize betting on the results of scripted matches, sources said.
- WWE works with EY, commonly referred to as Ernst & Young, to secure match results so they are not released to the public.
- WWE creative executives do not plan to notify winning wrestlers hours before a match.
- WWE aims for major sports betting companies to offer betting on high profile matches.
Vince McMahon attends a press conference to announce that WWE Wrestlemania 29 will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Michael N. Todaro | Getty Images
WWE is in talks with state gaming regulators in Colorado and Michigan to legalize betting on high-profile matches, according to people familiar with the matter.
WWE is working with accounting firm EY to get scripted match results in hopes of convincing regulators there’s no chance the results will be released to the public, said the people, who asked not to. not be named as discussions are private. Accounting firms PwC and EY, also known as Ernst & Young, have always worked with award shows, including the Oscars and Emmys, to keep the results secret.
Betting on the Oscars is already legal and available through some sports betting apps, including market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings, although most states don’t allow it. WWE executives have cited betting on the Oscars as a model for convincing regulators playing scripted matches is safe, the people said.
Yet, although the results of the Oscar voting are known to a select few before they are publicly announced, they are not scripted by the writers. Even if regulators allow gambling, betting companies should decide if they are willing to place odds on WWE matches, even if it is legalized. Those discussions have yet to take place at betting companies, according to people familiar with the matter.
A WWE spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson for EY could not immediately be reached for comment. Michigan and Colorado gambling regulators did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If WWE is successful in its attempt to legalize match-play gambling, it could open the door to legalized betting on other secret and guarded scripted events, such as the future deaths of characters in television series.
Allowing betting on certain WWE matches would change the way matches are produced – and the way storylines are created. In discussions about how wrestling betting could work, WWE executives have proposed that scripted match results be locked in months in advance, according to people familiar with the matter. The wrestlers themselves wouldn’t know if they were winning or losing until shortly before a match took place, the people said.
For example, WWE could lock in Wrestlemania main event results months in advance, based on a scripted storyline that depended on the winner of January’s Royal Rumble. Betting on the match could then take place between the end of the Royal Rumble and up until days or even hours before Wrestlemania, when wrestlers and others involved in the show’s production learned of the results.
The introduction of legalized gambling could give WWE increased appeal to a new set of fans while dramatically changing creative storylines. Paul Levesque, whose wrestling name is Triple H, succeeded Vince McMahon as head of WWE creative operations in July. McMahon stepped down as WWE Chairman and CEO last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct, but returned to the WWE Board of Directors in January as Executive Chairman to prepare for the company to a sales process.
WWE is expected to meet with potential buyers for the company next month in preparation for first-round offers, two of the people said. There is no guarantee that a transaction will occur.
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