New Jersey Looks To Generate Significant Tax Revenue From Legalized Oscars Betting

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Gambling Data Predicts Roma to Take Best Picture, Director, and Cinematography Academy Awards

As the 91st Academy Awards approach this Sunday, millions wait anxiously to see which of their favorite movies and stars of 2019 will take home the honors. While the Oscars often come with memorable red carpet interviews, moving performances, occasional controversy, and as of recently, historic mistakes, this year will bring a new opportunity: gambling. Residents and visitors of New Jersey are now free to legally bet on Sunday’s awards, thanks to New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Oddsmakers Weigh in on Nominees

Part of the US-Bookies.com online gambling intelligence network, Bet-NJ compiled the wagering data to predict the favorites for each category. As of now, Roma looks to be the highlight film of the year, with current odds predicting it to win three key awards.

Oscars Betting in NJ

Best Picture: Roma

The odds favor Roma to take home the award for Best Picture, at 1/5, however, Green Book is making it a closer race with opening odds (8/1) shortening heavily to 3/1. “Given its payout versus what one would receive by wagering on Roma, Green Book may be a wise bet,” says US-Bookies betting industry analyst Alex Donohue.

Despite the title, The Favourite currently sits behind Roma and Green Book, at 20/1 odds, followed closely by BlacKkKlansman at 25/1. Black Panther, the first film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to earn a Best Picture nomination, is not expected to take home the golden trophy with odds of 33/1. Though it has earned noms in the Best Lead Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Director, and other categories, Vice seems to be the least likely to win Best Picture, with current odds of 125/1.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)

Once again, the Spanish film is the favorite. The smartest money of the night appears to be on Alfonso Cuarón to win best director, with odds of 1/16. BlacKkKlansman’s Spike Lee follows with 12/1 odds. From here, the betting data predicts more separation with The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos at 40/1, and Adam McKay (Vice) and Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) holding 50/1 odds.

Best Actor: Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)

The Best Actor category seems to be the tightest of the night. After opening at 5/1 odds, Rami Malek shot to 1/7, meaning his depiction of Freddie Mercury captivated the critics, fans, and even the bettors. Christian Bale donned a bald cap and an extra 40 lbs to play the role of US VP Dick Cheney in Vice, and initial wagering data indicated that it payed off, as he was the favorite at even odds. However, being one of the most volatile bets on the card, Bale’s odds have since shifted to 7/2, putting him behind Malek. Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) followed a similar path. While his 5/1 odds looked quite promising last month, things don’t look as good for Cooper now at 20/1 odds to take home the Oscar.

Best Actress: Glenn Close (The Wife)

According to wagering data, the smart money is on Close to win Best Actress with 1/6 odds. Olivia Colman (The Favourite), appears to follow closely behind at 4/1. After winning Grammys for her song Shallow from A Star is Born, Lady Gaga currently has 16/1 odds to add the Best Leading Actress award to her trophy case for her role in the film.

Best Animated Feature Film: Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse

Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse sits comfortably atop the favorites at 1/12 odds, spurred no doubt by winning the Golden Globe for best Animated Motion Picture. However, its spot wasn’t always as secure, as Incredibles 2 opened with 8/1 odds, but has since moved to 20/1. Bettors now place Isle of Dogs as the runner up, with 12/1 odds.

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Green Book)

Currently, the odds predict Mahershala Ali to receive his second Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance as jazz pianist Don Shirley in Green Book (1/2). However, his spot as the favorite wasn’t as clear when betting opened, as Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) held 5/1 odds, and Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born) 8/1. Their odds have since shifted to 10/1 and 16/1, respectively.

Best Supporting Actress: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)

Regina King looks to be the clear favorite to win Best Supporting Actress for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk with 1/2 odds, though Amy Adams (Vice) follows closely at 7/2.

Best Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman

Though BlacKkKlansman is the clear favorite now at 1/5 odds, the Adapted Screenplay category was tighter when betting began. If Beale Street Could Talk opened at 2/1, with A Star Is Born following closely behind 8/1. However, these films’ odds now sit at 7/2 and 16/1, respectively.

New Jersey and The Academy Benefit

Being one of the most active betting markets, the state of New Jersey looks to gain significant tax revenue from legalizing gambling on the Academy Awards. With football, the most popular betting outlet in the states, coming to an end, interested gamblers are looking for more opportunities to win a quick buck. With the convenience of mobile and online betting, Garden State residents can make last-minute bets while sitting on the couch. US-Bookies betting industry analyst Alex Donohue expects the Oscars to be a good indicator of how legalized gambling can generate more tax revenue when expanding beyond sports. “It’ll be interesting to see what the final handle will be from a state that wagered more than $385 million on sports in January.” Even those who are less passionate about the films can find enjoyment in prop bets, such as the possibility of another envelope mixup, whether President Trump gets mentioned, or even if someone falls on the way to the stage.

After noticing record low ratings in 2018, The Academy may relish the influx of gamblers tuning in to see if their bets hit. Legalized gambling could be the secret weapon needed to help the Oscars eclipse 30 million viewers. With recent research suggesting 70% of Americans would be more likely to watch a sporting event if they’ve placed a bet on it, the same logic may apply for the 2019 Oscars. Being one of the most populous states with a prominent gambling presence, New Jersey may be home to multitudes of watchers come Sunday. As access to regulated gambling gets easier, and bettors have resources like Bet-NJ, new betting outlets can become increasingly beneficial for state governments and other related organizations.