US – New Jersey sportsbooks accepting first legal bets on the OscarsBy Phil - 12 February 2019
For movie lovers in and around New Jersey, there has never been a better time to have a strong opinion on this year’s Oscars. New Jersey sportsbooks are the first in United States history to legally accept bets on the Academy Awards — which are set for 24 February — breaking new ground on the rapidly expanding legal sports betting market, according to analysts at PlayUSA.com.
“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for American movie lovers to bet on the Academy Awards — legally — for the first time ever,” said Jessica Welman, betting analyst for PlayUSA.com and a movie historian who earned a bachelor’s in Cinema-TV Critical Studies from the University of Southern California, and a master’s in Film and Media Studies from Indiana University Bloomington. “Oscars betting has been popular overseas for years, so it will be intriguing to see what the reaction here is. We suspect interest will be relatively high during a typically slow month for sportsbooks.”
In late January, New Jersey regulators opened the door to legal Oscars betting, though it is possible that this is the only year that it is offered. New Jersey sports betting operators have responded, with nine online sites currently offering odds on the Academy Awards.
Odds and contests vary by sportsbooks, and betting limits are relatively low compared with mainstream sporting events. Most books are simply offering odds on the winners of the big six Academy Awards categories: best picture, director, actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress.
“The novelty alone should pique interest of bettors,” said Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for PlayUSA.com. “People already love to try to predict who will win the Oscars, and now they can actually put their money where their mouth is. Do you think Black Panther, Roma or A Star Is Born can win it all? You can bet on it in New Jersey.”
As an event that has never been offered before, the handle for legal Academy Awards betting is difficult to predict. But this year could be ideally situated. Odds for a tight Best Picture race range from the favorite, Roma (odds are as low as 1 to 2), to the dark horse, Vice (as high as 800 to 1).
Without a clear favourite, the Best Picture race could generate significant interest.
“This is a fun year, especially for bettors, because there is no heavy favourite,” Welman said. “Looking at the classic indicators of who will win Best Picture, the results are all over the map. While Roma may be the frontrunner, it is far from a guaranteed winner, which means one of these underdog winners could result in big payday for those who back them. Take Black Panther, for example. There is a scenario that the box office smash could win Best Picture. And with some books offering +2,500 odds, a small $10 bet could result in $250 profit.”