Professional wrestling straddles the line of reality and fantasy. So, does it make sense to allow sports betting on the outcome of pre-determined matches?
That was the question around the ring last week when CNBC reported that the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), the top professional wrestling company in the world, had talked with three states – Colorado, Indiana and Michigan – about adding its events to their sports betting menus.
Some sportsbooks allow betting on Oscars, so why not wrestling?
It’s been nearly three years since Colorado online sports betting began. And with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and NBA’s Denver Nuggets in contention to capture titles this year, sports betting should be brisk in The Centennial State in 2023.
When the Colorado Division of Gaming was asked about adding WWE to its sports betting lineup, the response was, basically, “We’re not considering it.” Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Henry Williams said there’s a process to request inclusion.
“Any request for inclusion in Michigan’s Sports Wagering Catalog must be submitted to the MGCB by a Michigan-licensed operator or platform provider, and the agency has not received a formal request regarding WWE events wagering. The WWE should work with the gaming industry if it wishes to bring a proposal before the MGCB.”
The WWE has already registered with Indiana. And since notable betting sites do list markets on the Academy Awards, it may not be that big of a stretch to allow betting on professional wrestling matches.
Or is it? The truth is, people can already bet on WWE events overseas on multiple sportsbooks.
And there’s one former wrestling insider throwing another one under the bus over it. He says the former wrestler gamed the system years ago by betting on matches he had a hand in designing.
The Disco Inferno became a booker
Ever hear of Disco Inferno? The Disco Inferno had a terrible gimmick (he danced), a great theme song (“Disco Fever! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!”) and used Stone Cold Steve Austin’s finisher, the “Stone Cold Stunner,” in his matches to win. Except Disco called his Chartbuster.
Disco, whose real name is Glenn Gilbertti, had a brief run in the WCW (World Championship Wrestling). He had some fans. I mean, I know his theme song by heart.
When WWE bought WCW in 2001, Disco moved over to a second-rate professional wrestling company, TNA/IMPACT. He became a member of that organization’s booking committee, meaning it was his job to help create storylines for the wrestlers, spark feuds and determine winners of matches.
Russo applies Chartbuster on Gilbertti
One of his partners on the TNA/IMPACT booking committee was Vince Russo. Hardcore professional wrestling fans know all about Russo. He was a star booker in WWE for a while, then ran the WCW into the ground. His tenure at TNA/IMPACT isn’t beloved, either.
Russo and former WWE star EC3 (Ethan Carter III) were on “The Wrestling Outlaws” podcast on SportsKeeda earlier this week talking about the concept of betting on pro wrestling matches. Russo said the idea didn’t surprise him because he knew that Gilbretti had bet on matches when he was working at TNA/IMPACT.
“This was going on 12-15 years ago. Bro, listen, here is the scoop of the day: Glenn Gilbertti, otherwise known as Disco Inferno, was on the booking committee placing these bets, bro. That is a fact. He was all over that, but that’s been happening for a while.”
Carter also said the idea of allowing betting on wrestling matches was flawed.
“How many different ways can this go? People in positions of power can rig the outcomes to line their pockets. ‘Hey, Spud, who’s going over in the Roman Reigns match? Alright, clue me for 20%, you bet it.’ And then what about this? I’m a talent, okay, and I’m gonna win, and there’s some sort of regulations, some sort of structure that the finishes can’t be changed like the bets lay. What’s gonna stop me from throwing, I don’t know, six figs on me losing and whoops, forgot to kick out. My bad.”
Major legal sportsbooks scoff at the idea
How come sportsbooks abroad are comfortable with the idea of betting on WWE matches? One company has enlisted the services of Ernst and Young to help “guarantee” that the pre-scripted outcomes won’t be revealed to the wrestlers themselves until the last possible moment.
That’s not enough for Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM. He was asked about allowing action on WWE matches and his response was “NFW.” In other words, no freaking way.
A FanDuel spokesman told CNBC the idea was “highly unlikely.” DraftKings was a little more receptive to the concept, saying it would be up to the regulators.
The WWE is certainly looking for a new revenue stream and sportsbooks crave the added inventory, but allowing real money to be bet on an event with a scripted outcome just doesn’t pass the smell test.