Business

New Jersey sportsbooks are gearing up for The Oscars this weekend

Jake Patel
Posted on February 22, 2019

On Sunday millions of people around the world will be tuning in to watch the 91st iteration of the Academy Awards, one of the biggest entertainment events in the world. With critically acclaimed films like Black Panther, Roma and Green Book amongst the nominees, it’s anyone’s guess as to which movie will be crowned ‘Best Picture of the Year’.

Every year Vegas oddsmakers have posted odds for the nominees in various Oscar categories, but no US sportsbook has ever been able to accept wagers on the awards, until now.

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) sent out an email to sportsbook operators that said they could take action on The Oscars.

According to reports, the email said: “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 a quick overview of the New Jersey Oscar betting scene with comments from DraftKings Sportsbook Director, Johnny Avello and PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken

Where to place bets on The Oscars

It is now the first time New Jersey residents will be able to place bets on the awards show from the palm of their hands – a somewhat historic moment in the evolution of award show betting.

Since the news broke that betting on The Oscars would be permitted in New Jersey, several sportsbooks have offered prices on Oscar markets and are taking bets.

DraftKings Sportsbook Director, Johnny Avello told BettingUS.com “I’ve been posting odds for entertainment purposes for 25 years now and New Jersey has been pretty aggressive in allowing us to do different things, like the Gatorade prop bet during the Super Bowl. Those types of wagers have never been done in the US before. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has allowed us to be aggressive with new opportunities.”

So far, 12 New Jersey sportsbooks have posted odds on The Oscars:

• DraftKings Sportsbook
• FanDuel Sportsbook
• BetStarsNJ
• 888 Sportsbook
• SugarHouse Sportsbook
• Golden Nugget Sportsbook
• Caesars
• Resorts
• PointsBet
• Hard Rock
• playMGM
• William Hill NJ

Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet, provided BettingUS with a comment: “We’re thrilled to enter the entertainment arena and are proud to be the first bookmaker to offer legal betting on The Oscars. Entertainment is a fast-growing segment of the betting industry and we’re looking forward to continuing to bring new innovative betting props to our customers.”

With so many different sportsbooks accepting bets it can be hard for them to set themselves apart from each other. Avello added: “We are constantly moving the bar and trying to come up with new ideas to get more bettors on our mobile app and visit our retail location. Horse racing is something that we are maneuvering through, we may try to launch that at retail locations and possibly at a national level.”

Betting on entertainment events in the future

Although sportsbooks are capitalizing on the expansion of the New Jersey betting market, The NJDGE stated that sportsbooks have permission to offer Oscar bets for “this year only.”

“The reason they usually give you one year at a time for different types of offerings is that they want to see how it goes,” said Avello. “It’s new to regulators, it’s new to the operators, it’s new to the oddsmakers and it’s new to the public.

“At some point when everyone is comfortable with it [new offerings], you probably won’t need to continue to get those permissions.”

As this is the first time that a US regulator has granted operators permission to accept bets on an entertainment event, it raises the question: could sportsbooks offer bets on other entertainment events in the future? Sportsbook operators are certainly hopeful that this is the first of many.

“There are a lot of big award shows that occur during the year,” said Avello. “Looking towards the future we have the Tony Awards, American Music Awards and Emmys. There are even some shows that could be considered like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and Eurovision. Even the election could be considered.”

Aitken added: “We hope to see The Oscars set a precedent for similar entertainment markets that have the opportunity to enhance the viewing experience for all of our customers.”

Oscar betting overseas

Although betting on The Oscars is new to US bettors, this is just a typical day for bettors in overseas markets.

In the UK sportsbooks have taken bets on The Oscars for several years now. In fact, UK sportsbooks offer action on a variety of entertainment events from the outcome of the talent show, Britain’s Got Talent to who will sit on the Iron Throne in the hit show Game of Thrones.

A spokesperson from UK sportsbook BetFred told BettingUS: “We expect to take a lot more money at the weekend when The Oscars get more publicity in the media. A few sharp operators have got on at bigger prices, but it may take a flood of money to change the odds drastically on the main markets.”

It remains to be seen how much revenue sportsbooks could see from taking bets on The Oscars, but it appears that sportsbooks are focused on attracting a new betting audience.

Avello said: “I don’t know if it’s going to be a big revenue maker or not, but it’s a good conversation starter. I can tell you that there have been new people who have actually visited our retail location and mobile app that aren’t sports bettors.”

While offering Oscar betting markets could potentially open the door for US sportsbooks looking to take bets on non-sporting events, there are certain precautions that must be taken.

“You have to be careful with some of the content you are offering,” Avello added. “You want to make sure that with whatever you are offering, someone doesn’t know the results already, like the bachelor or another show where the outcome has already been determined before it started.”

2019 Oscar betting markets

The odds posted vary between sportsbooks. Some sportsbooks are taking action on all categories while others only taking action on the big six categories:

• Best Picture
• Best Director
• Best Actor
• Best Actress
• Best Supporting Actor
• Best Supporting Actress

The NJDGE has informed sportsbooks that the maximum win on an Oscars bet must be $1,000.
As it stands, Roma is the bookies favorite to win Best Picture with odds of 1/3 at DraftKings Sportsbook and PointsBet.

Green Book is the next favorite to win Best Picture with PointsBet offering odds of 3/1 and DraftKings offering 15/4.

“Our favorite is Roma at 1/3, I would say that’s the choice I would bet on,” said Avello. “I saw the movie a couple of times, it got outstanding reviews and I had to watch it again because I didn’t think it was that good the first time. The second time I felt exactly the same way.

“It’s not my personal favorite, but it’s our favorite because that’s where the odds need to be positioned because of the hype it’s getting. I think Roma is going to win Best Foreign Film, Cinematography and Director, but there could always be an upset.”

The 2019 Academy Awards will take place on Sunday 24 February 2019.