Could Legalization of WWE Sports Betting Prompt Kentucky to Change Gambling Laws?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 8, 2023 07:00 PM
Could Legalization of WWE Sports Betting Prompt Kentucky to Change Gambling Laws?

It seems as if WWE sports betting could be legalized in the near future. And that, among many other things, could be good news for anyone who supports a change to Kentucky gambling laws.

As of now, sports betting in Kentucky is not legal. The state has broached the subject on a number occasions, and there is currently a Kentucky sports betting bill being discussed during the 2023 legislative sessions. However, despite the clear interest on the matter, various issues have prevented lawmakers from reaching anything that resembles a consensus. Most notably, there has been stark disagreement over the legalization of online sports betting. While the latest proposal includes mobile wagering as part of the plan, it isn't yet clear whether the House of Representative and Senate has the two-thirds support necessary to pass the initiative through.

Is it actually possible the latest WWE sports betting news could shift sentiment in Kentucky even further? Certain experts are not ruling out.

Allow us to explain why.

WWE Sports Betting Could Debut in a Select Number of States

At present, WWE betting is not offered anywhere in the United States. In fact, it's barely offered anywhere. Many of the sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks don't include WWE events among their betting lines.

The reason why isn't a secret—or hard to understand: The WWE is scripted. Writers and key stakeholders know the outcome of matches before they take place. And allowing people to place wagers on events that have predetermined outcomes opens up sportsbooks to all sort of vulnerabilities. Still, this may not prevent WWE sports betting from debuting in a select number of states. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. is reportedly in talks with Michigan and Colorado to offer legal betting lines on their events. Alex Sherman of CNBC provides the full scope of details for us below:

 "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 the accounting firm EY to secure scripted match results in hopes it will convince regulators there’s no chance of results leaking to the public, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Accounting firms PwC and EY, also known as Ernst & Young, have historically worked with award shows, including the Academy Awards and the Emmys, to keep results a secret.

"Still, while Academy Awards voting results are known by a select few before they’re announced publicly, they aren’t scripted by writers. Even if regulators allow gambling, betting companies would have to decide if they’re willing to place odds on WWE matches even if it’s legalized. Those discussions have yet to occur at betting firms, according to people familiar with the matter."

First and foremost, the WWE must convince gambling regulators that they can keep the results of their major matches entirely buttoned up. As of now, the company says it will accomplish this by not informing anyone which wrestler will win a given match until hours beforehand—and that includes the participating wrestlers themselves. Plenty of more steps must be taken for the WWE to sell key stakeholders on the model. But their proposal is already generating major interest from big-time sportsbooks.

Here's How the Legalization of WWE Sports Betting Could Influence Kentucky

What does any of this have to do with Kentucky? Well, they are apparently among the two states most interested in WWE and wrestling at large.

Wrestling World recently conducted a project in which they "examined Google Trends data to analyze the past twelve months of Google searches across the country for search terms frequently associated with the world of wrestling." By these metrics, Kentucky rated as the second-most "obsessed" wrestling state in the USA, with the second-highest proportion of their population Google searching for terms associated with the WWE and the sport of wrestling in general. WWE superstar also ranks among the most searched for people in the state, period.

This could have significant implications on the push to legalize Kentucky sports betting. The state's interest in horse racing—and more specifically, the Kentucky Derby—has emerged as the driving force behind sports betting agendas in recent years. If state lawmakers have another prominently consumed sport among their constituents to consider, it could prompt them to more sweepingly support the latest measure.

Don't underestimate the potential here, either. Unlike most other states, Kentucky does not have a pro sports team. If the WWE qualifies as one of the three or four most watched "leagues" by their residents, it will undoubtedly resonate with lawmakers.

It Still May Take a While for Kentucky to Legalize Sports Betting

Here's the hard truth of all this: The legalization of WWE sports betting probably won't have a huge impact on the short term. This year's legislative sessions adjourn around April, and the WWE hasn't even successfully been granted approval by gambling regulators just yet.

In all likelihood, Kentucky officials will want to see how any prospective legalization in Colorado and Michigan pans out before heavily factoring the WWE into their own line of thinking. And that means it wouldn't have any real sway over the state's plans until 2024—at the absolute earliest.

For the time being, then, Kentucky residents must wait and see whether the current sports betting bill and climate is enough to shift gambling laws this year. If it's not, we should all be sure to closely monitor the fate of WWE sports betting. It could prove to matter a whole lot later on.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one works best for all of your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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