Oscars odds are once again being offered at Atlantic City casinos and New Jersey sportsbooks, and “Roma” is the frontrunner to win the coveted Best Picture Academy Award.
Late last month, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) signed off on allowing sportsbooks to take both mobile and in-person wagers on the outcome of this month’s Academy Awards.
The Division has received multiple requests. After reviewing the relevant information on integrity issues, the Division has determined that pre-event betting on the Oscars can be offered,” the DGE said in an email to operators.
However, days later the gaming regulator told operators to suspend such odds. Now, Oscars wagering is back up and running. Associated Press reporter Regina Garcia Cano spoke with several oddsmakers in New Jersey who say they’ve received authorization to resume the non-sports action. It’s the first time in US history that bettors are able to place legal wagers on the Academy Awards.
Along with “Roma” being the frontrunner for Best Picture (-350), New Jersey sportsbooks like Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) for Best Actor (-400), and Glenn Close (“The Wife”) for Best Actress (-500). To net a $100 on Close, bettors will need to risk $500.
The Oscars air live on Sunday, February 24.
Nevada long held a monopoly on full-scale sports betting in the US due to its exemption from the federal ban. The US Supreme Court’s ruling that the anti-sports wagering law violated the Constitution opened up the floodgates for sports wagering to expand across the country.
While New Jersey is the first state where sportsbooks are taking bets on the Oscars, it’s not the first to legalize the activity.
In 2017, then-Nevada Senator Becky Harris (R-District 9) – who became the first female chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) a year later – introduced legislation to permit betting on esports.
Kelly / Warner Internet Law, a firm focused on legal cases involving the internet, specializes in esports issues. On its website, the group say Harris’ bill, which was signed into law by former Governor Brian Sandoval (R), also opens up the possibility for sportsbooks to take bets on entertainment awards shows such as the Oscars and Grammys.
However, to date, no Nevada sportsbooks have petitioned the NGCB for approval to offer such entertainment lines.
Sports betting is now up and running in eight states, but only oddsmakers in New Jersey will be paying attention to the Academy Awards. The vast expansion of sports betting remains largely focused on, well, sports.
And unlike overseas where novelty betting allows gamblers to put money on nearly anything, in America, regulators have largely avoided such markets. Nevada is the gold standard of the gaming industry, and many states have modeled their casino expansion laws after the Silver State.
Betting on political outcomes is banned in the United States, though exceptions are made for “prediction markets” such as PredictIt. That isn’t the case in the UK where the practice is rampant.
It’s caused plenty of controversy over the years, most notably in 2008 when Irish bookmaker Paddy Power offered odds on whether President Barack Obama would be assassinated.