New Jersey is the first state to take legal Oscars bets

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

If you’re feeling lucky but not into sports, now you can bet on something new in New Jersey — the Oscars.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement gave retail and online sportsbooks in New Jersey the green light for betting on the awards show, but only for 2019. Gaming expert Rummy Pandit says the move will add diversification to the gaming industry.

“You have 25 to 30 million customers that are viewers of the event that takes place once a year. Now what happens is that’s not necessarily the same customer, so this is going to open up a whole new market,” Pandit said.

Johnny Avello is director of sportsbook operations with DraftKings. He says you can bet on all Oscars categories through their sportsbook, like Best Actress or Best Costume Design, but he says about 60 percent of the betting has been on Best Picture.

“With ‘Roma’ being favorite at 2 to 5, there are a lot of opportunities out there and our bettors are actually putting their money on those opportunities. Like ‘A Star Is Born’ is actually 40 to 1, Lady Gaga is 17 to 1, Bradley Cooper is 20 to 1, and that’s where we’re seeing the money. Actually ‘A Star Is Born’, the whole move is getting a lot of action in major categories, and why not? That’s the way you should bet it,” said Avello.

“So that means if you bet $100, you get $340 back — that’s pretty good,” said sports bettor Joseph DiBella at the Meadowlands Racetrack, after taking a closer look at what he could win.

While sportsbooks sometimes accept six and seven-figure wagers on a sport, the state is limiting wagers for the Oscars at $1,000. DiBella said he might try his luck.

“Las Vegas you can bet the way the dime falls off the table, so I think it’s great. Right now, if you look around you got people from Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, they’re all coming here to bet. Now you got me wondering if I should put a bet in on the Oscars,” said DiBella.

But not everyone thinks betting on the Oscars is a good idea, and in some cases, even fair.

“Personally I don’t like it,” said bettor Jared Rifkin. “I think unlike sports where you can determine the winner, there’s no information on who’s going to win prior. I do kind of think the Oscars, the data exists somewhere in an envelope who the winner is of these awards and to me that’s a little, I wouldn’t do it and I’m not going to bet on it.”

Avello said other awards shows could be an opportunity for betting in New Jersey, like the Grammys, Tonys or Emmys.