- DraftKings is set to become official gaming partner of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
- Collaboration centers on the DraftKings free to play pools with a Wrestlemania pool coming up in early April.
- Pro wrestling has become a surprisingly popular betting sport at offshore books.
World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE: WWE) has announced that they’re entering into a partnership deal with DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG). DraftKings will become an Official Gaming Partner of the WWE–as always ‘subject to regulatory approval’. For now at least, the primary area of collaboration will be the DraftKings ‘free to play’ pools with the inaugural WWE pool coming up on April 10 and 11 at Wrestlemania.
Pursuant to the agreement with WWE, DraftKings will receive an exclusive license to media assets and in-game branding for WWE pay-per-view events. Additionally, both WWE fans and DraftKings customers will be able to participate in a number of integrated, free-to-play pools contests and products and experience digital promotion and program integration.
Ezra Kucharz, Chief Business Officer at DraftKings, is excited to join forces with the WWE:
“As a cultural icon and incredible sports and entertainment company, we are thrilled to join forces with WWE and introduce its devoted fanbase to the DraftKings brand. This relationship helps fuel the engagement and drama of WWE’s signature matchups and storylines as audiences enjoy the second-screen experiences our products provide.”
WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon knows this game and even drops the ‘deepening engagement’ buzzword:
“We’re excited to enter this new agreement that makes DraftKings WWE’s first-ever free to play gaming partner. This collaboration marks a significant step in deepening engagement with our passionate fans and will provide DraftKings the opportunity to leverage the massive appeal and reach of the WWE brand.”
Although both companies emphasized the ‘free to play’ component of the deal the collaboration raises the possibility of WWE events hitting the betting board. Why not? Pro wrestling has been a popular betting sport at offshore books for years. In the past couple of years the popularity has grown with some books offering odds on not only the WWE but the US AEW promotion and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The trick would be getting state gaming regulators–most of whom have a tenuous grasp of sports betting as it is–to add pro wrestling to the state betting catalog. The ‘predetermined’ nature of the event would be a roadblock though sportsbooks routinely take bets on the NFL Draft most of which has already been decided long before the teams step up to the podium. There are also similarities to awards shows like the Oscars–the outcome of each category is determined well in advance of the show itself. Ditto reality TV–most reality shows are taped well in advance and edited into a cohesive narrative. Translation–someone knows the outcome.
Offshore sportsbooks have had little trouble dealing with predetermined events of this type. The final season of Game of Thrones produced massive betting action offshore. Here’s a SPORTSINSIDER.COM report on the third episode of the final season which includes a history of betting on TV shows:
More recently, offshore sportsbooks had little trouble sussing out the Super Bowl streaker after he claimed to have placed bets on himself. Whether or not he did is unknown, but books easily dealt with the issue.
There’s plenty of betting interest on the WWE as well as entertainment events like reality shows, awards shows etc. By not booking these events, US sportsbooks are leaving money on the table–or more likely, leaving money in the coffers of offshore books. The problem is that many regulatory bodies think that bookmakers are idiots and that they understand sports betting more than the professionals. On the other hand, all that would be needed would be for a few of the states that understand sports betting to put entertainment events on the board for the more reticent (and clueless) states to start to come on board.
At the time of publication, James Murphy has a long position in WWE and DKNG.