DraftKings Teams Up with WWE Ahead of Wrestlemania 37 Despite Betting Restrictions

Posted on: March 30, 2021, 03:04h. 

Last updated on: March 30, 2021, 04:11h.

DraftKings and World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) have inked a deal that will see the Boston-based sports betting and DFS company become the sports entertainment brand’s “official gaming partner.”

Drew McIntyre (pictured) was crowned WWE champion at Wrestlemania 36. (Image: WWE)

DraftKings chief business officer Ezra Kucharz said Monday that the partnership will help “fuel the engagement and drama of WWE’s signature matchups and storylines, as audiences enjoy the second-screen experiences our products provide.”

A sports betting site is an unusual partner for the WWE, since offering bets on the outcome of bouts is illegal in America. But instead of being asked to engage with DraftKings’ sports gambling platform, wrestling fans are being pointed towards its free-to-play pool product.

Breaking the Kayfabe

Despite wrestling fans’ urge to suspend their disbelief when watching the latest face or heel bounce around the ring, professional wrestling is scripted. With a predetermined outcome, it would be easy enough for an insider to manipulate a betting market on next month’s Wrestlemania 37, for example.

In general, US regulators strictly prohibit bets where outcomes are decided before the event in order to guard against fraud and corruption. However, New Jersey has permitted betting on the Academy Awards.

Nevertheless, as part of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, DraftKings’ name will be all over Wrestlemania – the company will have in-game branding for all WWE pay-per-view events.

WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon said the partnership was “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.”

Risky Market

Some bookmakers do offer WWE, notably in Europe and the US-facing unregulated markets. But they exercise caution. Betting limits are kept small – likely no more than a hundred dollars – and operators are prepared to pull the market if they notice suspicious betting patterns.

Operators believe offering odds on wrestling and other scripted events can be worth the risk, because this attracts a different kind of bettor to their site, one who they hope will place bets on other events.

Here, too, lies the value for DraftKings – some high-visibility exposure among the 18 to 34 demographic that is potentially so valuable to the sports book.

“In our opinion, [DraftKings] is clearly taking the strategy of finding the most ways to drive eyeballs to its product, and with WWE having 38B digital video views and 1.4B hours consumed across its social and digital media platforms in 2020 … [DraftKings] has clearly found another powerful outlet,” wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Thomas Allen in a note.