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Now taking bets on … Best Picture?
New Jersey regulators are allowing NJ sportsbooks to take action on the Academy Awards.
It will be the first time that legal betting on the Oscars will take place in the United States. Nevada, despite having legal wagering for decades, has never taken action on the Oscars.
NJ regulators sent out this email to NJ sports betting operators:
The Division has received multiple requests to allow wagering on the 2019 Academy Awards (a/k/a The Oscars), which is taking place on February 24, 2019.
After reviewing the relevant information on integrity issues, the Division has determined that pre-event betting on The Oscars can be offered for this year only.
Please let me know if you intend to offer this event and, if so, what wagers you plan to offer and what limits you intend to place on the amounts of bets.
Here is the list of sportsbooks currently with Oscars betting in NJ:
You can learn more about betting on the Oscars here:
No sportsbooks have posted lines on the Oscars yet, but the likelihood is books will only offer odds on the more popular categories, such as Best Picture, Best Director, and the acting categories.
There is likely not much of an interest from the public in the technical categories like Best Sound Mixing. Additionally, it could easily be a losing proposition for sportsbooks, as the winners are regularly foregone conclusions.
The way Academy Award voting works is that only members of a field vote for the Oscar related to that field. Only sound designers vote for sound design, for example.
These technical groups almost all have their own guilds or unions that hand out awards as well, so the winner of the guild award is always the even-money favorite to take the Oscar too.
What will be interesting to see if how NJ sportsbooks choose to approach Oscar betting. For example, how will bookmakers generate a line on Black Panther’s chances of winning Best Picture?
Thankfully, there are actually entertainment news sites that track these sorts of things, so most bookmakers can consult those rather than fly blind.
Additionally, some sportsbooks already have a leg up. Johnny Avello, director of operations for DraftKings Sportsbook, used to generate Oscar odds for fun at his previous job at Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas.
Like last year, the current Oscar race for Best Picture is a wide-open one. It seemed as though A Star Is Born would mow through awards season and win everything. However, after getting shut out in the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, the wind is out of its sails.
However, there is not another movie that has emerged as a clear winner in the meantime. With so many different winners in categories across the various awards show, this is a good year for NJ sportsbooks to test out Oscar betting, as there are hardly any stone cold locks in the big categories.