The Super Bowl put a stamp on the NFL season earlier this month, helping New Jersey sportsbooks bring in over a billion dollars in handle over the last four months of 2018. Looking to build momentum and keep fans interested before the chaos that is March Madness, some books have offered prices on another bellwether event of the winter: The Oscars.
On the last Sunday of February, the titans of film and entertainment will gather in Tinseltown for the 91st Academy Awards. Some of New Jersey’s sports books will offer odds to help viewers at home sweat through the tension, share the raptures of victory and curse fate when a certain name isn’t in that fancy envelope. Let’s see if this helps ratings.
Place your bets
FanDuel Sportsbook, BetStars, and PlayMGM are offering prices on most of the broadcast’s big awards. DraftKings Sportsbook and PlaySugarHouse currently only has Best Pictures odds. Other books offer a few main categories. None offer any of the technical awards handed out prior to the main telecast.
This is the first time Americans can legally bet on the Oscars in the United States. New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement has allowed this year as a trial-run after fielding multiple requests. All bets must take place before the show starts, no multi-leg parlays, and the books have set strict wagering limits.
This victory, like so many in this line of work, hasn’t come without naysayers and derision from the field of play. Apparently, the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences (who apparently has time to complain about this) objected and the DGE managed to broker a solution. That’s probably why there’s no total on the ceremonies offered at any of the books.
Obviously, the question of integrity arose. Those with inside knowledge as voters or even those at the tabulating accounting firm might be able to game this. For those concerned about books having inside knowledge, don’t worry: MGM Studios broke off from the MGM Resorts that own the Borgata, among others.
While some expect this to be a blip on the radar and fail, the books are optimistic this could open them up to a new demographic: women. For all the football and sports men watch, many know this is usually one night to share the couch with the significant other. Goodbye beer and wings, hello chardonnay and hummus (or whatever awful combination is on the table with “the girls coming over”)!
“The launch of the Oscars gives us access to a new market and allows us to reach a demographic that we haven’t before while continuing to entertain sports fans,” said Kevin Hennessey of FanDuel Sportsbook. “These offerings are all about adding a bit of fun to an event like the Oscars and, as such, the limits and bet sizes are smaller than your average sporting event to make this extremely approachable for the everyday consumer.”
Betting is good for everyone
On the opposite, the Oscars could certainly use a way to reel in viewers. Their audience dropped 20% from 2017 to 2018, almost 5 million viewers in total. Without a host, they’re hoping to keep it within three hours so people don’t fall asleep or pop out to put together clothing racks they bought at IKEA (that was me last year).
This is the confluence of circumstances that makes the last Sunday in February now almost as important for books in NJ and the DGE as the first. Here’s an opportunity to launch new options and find new markets. Here’s an opportunity to reward faith and prove the books can maintain solid handle once football season ends. This could open up another big event in the spring that will happen in New Jersey: Wrestlemania.
For those visiting the retail outlets, expect a festive atmosphere and dress for the occasion. For those watching at home, there’s enough mobile options to stay busy through the red carpet segments and trite interviews before the ceremony begins. And don’t get too worked up about it; it’s just the Oscars.