• Bookies
  • News
  • WrestleMania 40: Can You Legally Bet On Pro Wrestling's Biggest Event?
Most Valuable Offer

$1,000 First Bet on Caesars

Visit site
Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.

WrestleMania 40: Can You Legally Bet On Pro Wrestling's Biggest Event?

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 6 mins

WrestleMania 40: Can You Legally Bet On Pro Wrestling's Biggest Event?

$1,000 First Bet on Caesars

Visit site
Used 26 Times Today
Popular in Virginia
Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.

WrestleMania 40 takes over Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial field this weekend, with two epic WWE Superstar-laden cards set to make pro wrestling history. 

There won’t be much brotherly love in the squared circle when Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins grapple with The Rock/The Final Boss and Roman Reigns in a tag-team extravaganza on Saturday. That match headlines a card that also features two women’s world championship matches – only in pro wrestling can you have two women’s world championships on the same card – and a WWE Tag Team Championship Six-Pack Ladder Match. 

Sunday night, Rollins will face Drew McIntyre for the World Heavyweight Championship. All eyes will be on CM Punk and how long he will stay in his supposed role as match commentator. 

Rhodes and Reigns will also battle for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. That is a rematch of last year’s match, won by Reigns. 

While Wrestle Mania fans will no doubt be thrilled by the action and antics in and around the ring, those wishing to legally wager on the outcome of any of these matches in the United States are out of luck. 

Wagering on WrestleMania 40 or any professional wrestling is not allowed in any of the 38 states (and Washington DC) where sports betting is legal. The reason? Pro wrestling has been considered pre-scripted entertainment for nearly 35 years. 

‘The Outcomes Are Predetermined’ 

WrestleMania 40: Can You Legally Bet On Pro Wrestling's Biggest Event? 1

“Betting is not permitted on WrestleMania in any legal state.  The outcomes are predetermined and it's an entertainment event, not a sporting event,” Fanatics spokesman Kevin Hennessy told bookies.com via email. Fanatics just launched in Kansas last week and is now operating in 17 states. It bought out PointsBet’s operations in North America last year. 

“Well, I don’t think I’m breaking kayfabe when I tell them we can’t accept wagers on it because the outcomes are predetermined. 99% of the population realizes that at this point. I think most people understand that is why we can’t take wagers on it. But then you get into the whole Oscar debate with people who want to wager on pro wrestling (the outcome is predetermined there as well),”  Thomas Gable, Director of Race and Sports at Borgata AC in New Jersey, told bookies.com via email.

Legal wagering on the Oscars was offered in seven states this year, including New Jersey. Regulators have determined that the safeguards in place in terms of protecting the names of winners beforehand are enough to satisfy concerns about the names being known widely in advance. Pro wrestling enjoys no such goodwill among regulators.

“The popularity of pro wrestling is undeniable, and the passion of their fans is also undeniable.  It certainly has ebbed and flowed through the decades but right now, I think wrestling is at a pretty good place in terms of popularity.  If it was offered, I’m sure it would do well.  Just not sure how sportsbooks could ever truly monetize it in a legal, regulated market. Too many leaks in pro wrestling,“ Gable added. 

As Gable noted, the entertainment factor and athleticism of pro wrestling are undeniable. As is the fact that the winners are known in advance to the participants, in addition to multiple people associated with each event. 

Because of that, regulators are not likely to change their stance on a full probation in the legal gambling space. 

Pro Wrestling Needs State-By-State Betting Approval

WrestleMania 40: Can You Legally Bet On Pro Wrestling's Biggest Event? 2

The betting catalog of available sports is different in each jurisdiction that allows legal betting. While states may not have specific laws that outlaw betting on pro wrestling, it would have to be added to the betting catalog of any given state. And the sportsbooks would have to request it. 

"Professional wrestling is not an allowable event in the MGC-approved catalog. The Commission approved a robust catalog ahead of the launch of sports wagering, and has updated this since. Operators are allowed to petition the MGC to add new events/wagers," Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokesman Thomas Mills told bookies.com via email. 

There is no specific regulation in the Bay State that prohibits wagering on pro wrestling, but the regulation regarding authorized and prohibited events is 17 pages long. It bans wagering  on "any Sporting Event or Wager Category in which the outcome has already been determined and is publicly known." 

The quirks in each state’s betting catalog extend beyond pro wrestling. For example, New Jersey prohibits wagering on all in-state colleges and universities. In Massachusetts, college betting on state schools is prohibited, but only during the regular season. The Bay State has also yet to approve wagering on any sports whose outcomes are determined by judges. That includes Olympic gymnastics and figure skating. 

NCAA president Charlie Baker last went public with his organization’s push to end wagering on college player prop bets. The practice is already prohibited in several states, including Baker’s home state of Massachusetts, Ohio, Colorado, and Maryland. 

DraftKings is offering a free-to-enter $10,000 WrestleMania Night 1 pool. Participants must pick the winners of each event. The event currently has more than 28,000 entrants. The first-place winner gets $500 in DK Dollars. 

'What They Do Is Entertain People'

WrestleMania 40: Can You Legally Bet On Pro Wrestling's Biggest Event? 3

The public admission that pro wrestling may not be on the up-and-up goes back to the 1980s. As the WWF grew, it wanted to expand into markets where pro wrestling was regulated in the same way as boxing. 

Eventually, those in charge went public with the worst-kept secret in sports: wrestling is entertainment, not sport.  

“Unlike professional boxers, professional wrestlers are not competing in contests where points are scored, and the winner determined, by potentially injurious blows struck at an opponent,” Linda McMahon told Pennsylvania lawmakers back in 1987.

At the time, the sister of Vince McMahon was the executive vice president of the Worldwide Wrestling Federation. “Instead, like the skilled athletes you see in the circus or the Harlem Globetrotters, our athletes are well-conditioned professionals who are the best at what they do. And what they do is entertain people,” she said. 

In 1989, a representative of the World Wrestling Federation testified in front of the New Jersey State Senate that pro wrestling was entertainment. With that, pro wrestling was deregulated in the Garden State. However, since pro wrestling is not regulated, it fails the test put to pro and college sports that are subject to rules and official scoring procedures. 

Some Pro Wrestling Matches Are Regulated 

The Pennsylvania Wrestling Act was most recently updated in 2002. It requires professional wrestling promoters to be licensed in the state. It does not prohibit any predetermined outcome or activity. It does state that wrestlers shall not “deliberately cut or otherwise” mutilate themselves while participating in a competition. It also calls for a 5% tax on gross ticket sales to be paid to the state.

New York still regulates pro wrestling through the State Athletic Commission. But it has not required licenses for wrestlers since the start of the century. Like Pennsylvania, promoters in New York are required to meet certain standards in terms of medical support, surety, and arena security.  

Some politicians in New York last year began to push to end those regulations because of the number of matches that are often held across the Hudson River in New Jersey. 

About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.