For the first time in the United States, gamblers will be able to place their bets on who will win at the Academy Awards, as New Jersey regulators have approved betting on the Oscars at sportsbooks in the state.
The decision to allow such bets, which was first reported by Jessica Welman of Legal Sports Report, was made by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) on Tuesday.
First Academy Awards Wagering in America
An email from the DGE to bookmakers in the state stated that betting on the Academy Awards has been approved “for this year only,” allowing sportsbook operators to start listing odds for the many honors that will be handed out on Feb. 24.
“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,” read the DGE email.
Oscars betting isn’t offered in Nevada, making this the first time wagering on the Academy Awards has been legal in the United States. However, it has long been a popular market for gamblers overseas, both with regulated European bookmakers and on offshore betting sites.
Operators Quick to Capture Oscars Buzz
After hearing the news, operators in New Jersey expressed excitement about being able to join their competitors across the globe in offering bets on one of the biggest entertainment events of the year.
“After numerous requests from New Jersey customers on the availability of Oscars betting, we’re thrilled the DGE has authorized pre-event betting markets to be provided for this year’s event,” Stars Group senior vice president of strategy and operations Matthew Primeaux told ESPN.
On Thursday, online bookmaker PointsBet had already posted odds for several major categories, setting a betting limit of $1,000 on each award.
“We’re thrilled to become the first US operator to offer betting on the Academy Awards,” PointsBet US CEO Johnny Aitken said in a statement. “The Oscars are one of the biggest events on the annual viewing calendar and Oscars pools have long been incredibly popular, so giving users the opportunity to bet on who they think will win Best Picture or Best Actress will add yet another layer of excitement to the viewing experience.”
The Top Oscars Betting Markets
Not all Oscars betting markets are created equal. In some categories, the winner is all but certain, which could make wagering on them a little less fun. But if some New Jersey bookmakers offer a deeper selection of categories to bet on, there are plenty of competitive races that could attract plenty of action.
Naturally, Best Picture should be the most popular betting market. According to William Hill, “Roma” (8/11) is favored to take down the award. However, both “Green Book” (7/2) and “The Favourite” (7/1) are also considered contenders, and almost every film outside of “Vice” (50/1) could potentially go into the night of the awards with some chance of victory.
Best Actor is also a competitive race, even if there are only two true contenders. Rami Malek (4/9) is the top choice for his depiction of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but Christian Bale (7/4) is right behind him after playing Dick Cheney in “Vice.”
For those willing to dive into the technical categories, Best Film Editing should also provide plenty of drama at the Oscars. “The Favourite” is – appropriately – the favorite at 11/10. But “Vice” (11/8) is given almost an equal chance of coming away with the prize, while “Bohemian Rhapsody” (13/2) is also very much in the race.