By Chuck Carroll
(CBS New York/CBS Local) — Can you bet on WrestleMania? In the words of the old Daniel Bryan, “yes, yes, yes.”
Interest in sports betting is surging, as a growing number of states relax gambling laws to cash in on a can’t-miss revenue stream. And it’s not just traditional sports that are getting all the action. Sports entertainment is also becoming an increasingly popular option for online sportsbooks, with thousands eager to plop down a few dollars on their favorite WWE Superstars, even though their fate has been determined long before the match even begins. But it’s not as crazy of a concept as you might think.
Sportsbooks have long taken prop bets on everything from the outcome of TV shows to winners at the Academy Awards, both of which have already been resolved and kept under wraps for days or even months before being broadcast. If anything, there’s a greater risk on betting on professional wrestling, because plans can change up until the moment wrestlers walk through the curtain. In some cases, the ending can even be changed mid-match.
Wagering on WrestleMania 35 is expected to be about quadruple that of a regular WWE pay-per-view, according to Adam Burns, sports book manager for BetOnline. The total amount of money wagered Sunday is expected to be somewhere in the upper six-figure range, which is about the same as a mid-season NFL game. It’s a nice sum for the Super Bowl of wrestling, but still paltry compared to the actual Super Bowl, which will see action well into the millions.
The average wrestling fan will bet around $50, and the maximum amount you can wager on a single match is only about $200, according to Burns.
“It’s more for people to have fun to bet on, and they can tell their friends they actually bet on WrestleMania,” Burns said.
The low limits could be raised the day of the event, as oddsmakers become more comfortable with things, barring any last minute wild rumors surfacing. BetOnline actually employs a super fan of sorts to keep track of such backstage gossip and adjust the lines accordingly.
But don’t expect the limits to be raised too much. The caps are in place in part to prevent company insiders, and even the wrestlers themselves, from cashing in.
“If the one or two people who actually know who’s going to win are willing to risk their job for a couple hundred bucks, then we’re comfortable with that,” Burns concluded.
The whole operation is really fascinating to track. Some of the wildest rumors that pop up can wind up becoming prop bets. For example, bets are being taken on whether the recently retired Connor McGregor and Rob Gronkowski will appear in this year’s Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The line on the UFC star to win is currently +5000, while ex-New England Patriot, who made a cameo at WrestleMania two years ago, is fairing far better at +1000.
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.