Oscars Betting In NJ Reaches A Head This Week, But Is It Worth It?

Written By Grant Lucas on February 20, 2019 - Last Updated on June 17, 2022
Oscars Betting NJ

Oscars week has arrived.

The stars are picking out their wardrobes for Sunday’s 91st Academy Awards. The red carpet reporters are honing their “Who are you wearing?” questions that we all so desperately want to hear the answers to. (Particularly from Chris Pratt.)

For the first time in 30 years, the most-watched awards show will go on without a host, thanks to Kevin Hart taking a page out of the Amtrak how-to book and going off the rails.

This year, though, the Oscars might sit in an ideal position for viewership. In using a variety of stars throughout the awards show, the Oscars, according to some former producers, could actually be MORE entertaining. To boot, for the first time ever, legal wagering on the Academy Awards is taking place in New Jersey.

While the Garden State pads its ever-burgeoning NJ sports betting industry by integrating the Oscars, while also encroaching on a market that had been exclusively offered by offshore sportsbooks, there’s a question that has yet to be answered:

Is it all worth it?

NJ sports betting adds Oscars

New Jersey has certainly taken advantage of this new Oscars market. The industry boasts 12 online sportsbooks that currently offer wagers on the Oscars, each listing between a single category (DraftKings Sportsbook) and an eye-opening 23 categories (playMGM).

Most apps feature lines on the Big Six categories:

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

Certainly, such Oscars integration allows NJ sportsbooks to diversify their offerings, perhaps even attract customers they otherwise would not have reached. Similar to how online sports betting products have merged with NJ online casinos via shared wallets to build their customer bases.

But the Oscars is a one-night event. The “season” will last less than a month. The payoff will be fractional. The event itself had long been avoided in Nevada, taking into consideration potential integrity issues with the awards. And already, New Jersey, in a “one-time-only” (for now) opportunity to offer Oscars betting, has hit some speed bumps.

Early hiccups bring up the question of value

Mere days after the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement signed off on sportsbooks offering Oscars wagers, the DGE reneged.

All odds on the Academy Awards were pulled off the board. Sources told Legal Sports Report that the regulatory body told operators to do so, though no indication as to why ever emerged.

It could be that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requested lines be taken down. It could be that the DGE approved one operator to offer Oscars lines, and multiple platforms took that as an overarching approval.

Whatever the reason, odds eventually went back up — and expanded to other online sportsbooks. Periodically, too, operators take down all their Oscars odds, like earlier this month, when many sportsbooks pulled Oscars lines ahead of the British Academy Film Awards, which traditionally paint a picture of how the Oscars play out. (Oscars voting begins two days after the BAFTAs conclude.)

Including this instance, operators have sporadically taken down lines to adjust odds, whereas lines for sporting events get live updates without getting pulled from the board.

All this work, for what?

Is Oscars betting worth it?

Time will only tell, really. The future of regulated Oscars betting remains to be seen. Remember, the DGE emphasized that wagering on the Academy Awards is for this year only. At least, for now.

When the DGE allowed NJ sportsbooks to include Oscars markets, it was obviously met with excitement. A novelty market essentially taken from the playbook of overseas and offshore sportsbooks.

But the laborious efforts to pull down lines, adjust and repost, several times each week, all while attempting to protect the integrity of it all — it seems too much to deal with. And for what?

Oscars betting will not become a windfall for NJ sports betting revenue. At best, $1 million in handle. But even that appears a stretch, considering operators like DraftKings and FOX Bet, among others, limit how much customers can wager. DraftKings, for example, caps potential winnings at around $100, while BetStars goes the other way, setting its limit at a “lay to lose” total of $300.

This, of course, sets a ceiling on the overall handle of NJ sportsbooks as well as potential revenue.

Is it all worth it? Apparently so. Not because of a financial boon, though. Simply as a steppingstone to continue building customer bases.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf.

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