Opinion: Betting on theater World Wrestling Entertainment wants people to be able to gamble on its scripted matches, according to CNBC. If it's allowed, what's next?

Opinion: Betting on theater

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WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment, wants to legalize betting on its wrestling matches, which - spoiler alert - are as carefully scripted and choreographed as a performance of "Swan Lake." CNBC reports that WWE is working with an accounting firm to assure state gambling commissions that the winners of their matches on "Raw," "SmackDown" and "WrestleMania" featuring the likes of Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio, Sami Zayn and Solo Sikoa can be concealed until the match is actually performed. Sports leagues used to shun gambling. Now they see it as - I'll use some corporate language here - a new source of revenue enhancement. The WWE calls itself an entertainment company, not a sports league.

This report made me wonder if other entertainment enterprises might now ponder bringing legalized betting into their operations for enhanced revenue. A Shakespeare in the Park company could offer odds this summer on who'll slip the last blade into Julius Caesar. I got Cassius at 2-1. Ah, I'll take Brutus at 3-1. Yes, the play's been around since 1599, but some people will bet on anything. Audiences watching "Star Wars" for the first time be encouraged to bet on Skywalker vs. Vader. School districts might entice middle schoolers to read classics with new interest if the students can wager a little of their lunch money on the different fates of the sisters in "Little Women," or whether Beowulf will take down Grendel.

Novelists might fire their imaginations with thoughts of new revenue. Harlan Coben, the great crime writer, seemed enthusiastic when he told us, does this mean I can list all the suspects on the title page, and Vegas makes up the betting odds? Would the favorite be the most obvious suspect or the least? Would we have an over-under on how many murders in the book? I doubt Hemingway or Joan Didion weighed such considerations when writing their novels, but I'll bet - interesting choice of words - it would have made the best of them.

Imagine new audiences who finally get tickets to "Hamilton," and when the lights come up on that final scene at dawn on a New Jersey plane, you see two statesmen holding pistols and might hear voices in the seats call out, five bucks on Hamilton, and, ah, I got a ten-spot on Aaron Burr.


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