The problem with WWE betting, 'can't lose' parlays, etc.: Optics and words still matter
The still nascent US sports betting industry also doesn't need these things
Some very dumb things have been circulating in the US sports betting industry in the past week, most notably the possibility of betting on the WWE and the idea of whether you can say a bet “can’t lose” when marketing a sportsbook.
I was Very Mad Online (TM) last week when both of these things happened last week, but I’ve also calmed down a bit. Clearly, if both of these things came to be or persisted in the US sports betting industry, it’s not the end of the world.
But, at the same time, these are both things that are not worth protecting or lobbying for. Why? Because both are silly marketing efforts nibbling at the margins. And what we don’t need, in the current environment of re-regulation, is nonsense that ends up as a talking point in the media, legislatures and/or regulatory hearings.
Subscribe to get more analysis and opining about the US gambling industry at The Closing Line.
WWE betting: Yeah, we don’t need that
Gambling Twitter was ablaze with the idea that betting on the WWE might be coming after this CNBC report that the company was lobbying regulators for its inclusion on betting menus.
First off, most of that report has now been refuted and it appears to be more like it was put into the universe by the WWE or an interested party during a potential sale.
Nevertheless, people promptly started losing their minds that we would allow betting on scripted matches. And yes, you can bet on professional/fake wrestling matches offshore and overseas; and the limits at which you could bet on the WWE would also be exceedingly low at a regulated book (presumably).
That also doesn’t mean we need it here in the US at this moment in time. The reason: It makes the industry look Very Much Not Serious, at a time when its seriousness has come into doubt in many circles.
There’s been pushback in recent months on how sports betting is marketed almost everywhere, and just the idea of taking bets on scripted matches with that backdrop is a bad look. And whatever bump sportsbooks get from new users, PR and revenue from WWE betting is going to be less than a rounding error; simultaneously, we are staring at the potential downside from a standpoint of being taken seriously.
Can’t lose parlays: We don’t need that either
I can be talked into the idea that if we allow betting on the WWE, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.
I cannot be talked into the idea that marketing a bet at a sportsbook as “can’t lose” is a good idea.
Barstool Sportsbook opened its doors in Massachusetts, and we saw this from its “marketing arm”:
The “Can’t Lose Parlay” at Barstool is hardly a new idea; they’ve been hawking this for awhile with one their many personalities. But again, it seems like an exceedingly bad idea when states and even the federal government are considering new regulations that limit advertising. Maybe, just maybe, we can avoid a stupid marketing gimmick that also has responsible gambling implications.
“HAHAHAHA he’s bad at gambling, it’s just a joke,” is again an example of not being serious as a company or an industry. You know what would actually be funnier if that is the case? Saying something like “Probably Not Going To Hit Parlay” or similar. That’s at least kind of funny.
But that’s not the point, is it? The point is for the sportsbook to portend that this is a good bet. Assuming not everyone is on this “joke” (they’re not), some would look at this and surmise that it’s a bet that has a positive return. Everyone can probably look at this and understand it has a chance to lose, but they also think this personality saying it’s a good bet gives them a reason to think it will win.
In any event, why are we doing this? Market your bet in a way that serious responsible gambling people aren’t cringing:
Anyway, to wrap up: There’s plenty of room for fun and new ways to market and improve your product without the WWE and jokes that have a responsible gambling issue. Let’s focus on those.
Photo used under license CC BY-SA 2.0 by Classy Freddie Blassie