WWE in talks about legalized betting on scripted match results

  • WWE has been in talks with state gambling regulators in Colorado and Michigan to legalize betting on scripted match results, sources said.
  • WWE has teamed up with EY, commonly known as Ernst & Young, to secure match results so they don’t leak to the public.
  • WWE creative executives don’t plan to inform wrestlers who will win until hours before a match.
  • WWE strives for major sports betting companies to offer bets 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 gambling 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 secure scripted match results in hopes it will convince regulators there is no chance of results leaking to the public, the people said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private . Accounting firms PwC and EY, also known as Ernst & Young, have traditionally worked with award shows, including the Academy Awards and the Emmys, to keep results secret.

Betting on the Academy Awards is already legal and available through some sports betting applications, including market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings, although most states do not allow it. WWE executives have cited Oscars betting as a template to convince regulators that betting on scripted matches is safe, the people said.

While the Academy Awards voting results are known to a select few before they are publicly announced, they are not written by writers. Even if regulators allow gambling, betting companies would have to decide if they’re willing to place bets on WWE matches, even if it’s legalized. Those conversations have yet to take place at betting offices, experts say.

A WWE spokesperson declined to comment. An EY spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. Gambling regulators in Michigan and Colorado did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If WWE succeeds in its effort to legalize match betting, it could open the door to legalized betting on other monitored, secret scripted events, such as future character deaths in TV series.

Allowing gambling on certain WWE matches would change the way matches are produced – and how storylines are created. In discussions about how betting on wrestling might work, WWE executives have suggested scripting match results 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 takes place, people said.

For example, the WWE could lock in the results of the Wrestlemania main event months in advance, based on a scripted storyline that revolved around the winner of the Royal Rumble in January. Betting on the match could then take place between the end of the Royal Rumble and up to days or even hours before Wrestlemania, when the wrestlers and others in the production of the show would learn the results.

The introduction of legalized gambling could give WWE greater appeal to a new set of fans, while significantly altering the creative storylines. Paul Levesque, whose wrestling name is Triple H, took over as head of WWE’s creative operations from Vince McMahon in July. McMahon stepped down as WWE chairman and CEO last year over sexual misconduct allegations, but returned as executive chairman in January to prepare the company for a sale process.

WWE will meet with potential buyers for the company next month in preparation for the first round of bids, two of the people said. There is no assurance that a transaction will take place.

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