DraftKings Sportsbook Director Gives A Big Picture Look At Oscars Betting

Academy Awards weekend is here. And if you are in New Jersey, it means there is still time to get in the Oscars betting action.

DraftKings Sportsbook is offering odds on all 24 categories. Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, said he is very happy the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement gave the green light, especially in the first year of legal NJ sports betting.

“I didn’t actually count it out because I saw how aggressive [the gaming enforcement board] was with Super Bowl props,” he said.

DraftKings originally posted odds for all 24 categories, but due to a technical glitch, only Best Picture odds appeared for the first week or so.

That problem has since been resolved. Betting will remain open all the way up through showtime, but no more bets will be accepted after 8 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 24.

In terms of the decision to offer all 24 categories, it’s simple:

“If you’re going to do it, you do it right,” Avello said. “These are 24 major awards.”

DraftKings Oscars betting gets creative

Besides moneylines on all categories, DraftKings is taking an outside-the-box approach by offering over/under lines for the number of Oscars each of the Best Picture nominees will win.

Roma, the heavy favorite to win Best Picture at -225, has an over/under of 3.5. If you think the movie will walk away with four or more awards, you can bet the over at -167.

But the creativity also comes in the form of odds boosts. As of Friday afternoon, DraftKings had two offers:

  • Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, and Bohemian Rhapsody all to win at least one award (was paying +100, now paying +120)
  • Roma to win Best Picture, Rami Malek to win Best Actor and Glenn Close to win Best Actress (was paying -141, now paying -110)

And of course, new players get a 100:1 odds boost if they can correctly pick the Best Picture winner. That welcome bonus ends after Sunday’s show.

Oscars betting breakdown from DraftKings

With this being the first year legal Oscars betting is being offered anywhere — including Nevada — many are likely wondering are wagers coming in beyond the big six:

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

As of Wednesday, DraftKings didn’t release specific numbers on wager amounts, but the company did share a percentage breakdown by category.

Award% Of Total Oscar Bets
Best Picture84.39%
Best Actor5.08%
Best Actress4.39%
Best Director2.33%
Best Supporting Actor1.86%
Best Supporting Actress1.43%
Best Animated Feature0.53%

Not a surprise, Best Picture was well in front at 84 percent. Best Actor was next at 5 percent. Wagers on Best Animated Feature, on the other hand, were at less than 1 percent.

Breaking down the Best Picture field even more, none of the movies were clearly dominating the field.

Best Picture Nominee% of Bets
A Star Is Born24.53%
Black Panther18.15%
Bohemian Rhapsody18.11%
Green Book12.56%
The Favourite5.2%

A Star is Born at 24.5 percent leads the way, but for the most part, the bets are coming in on all fronts.

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How does DraftKings set the Oscar lines?

Unlike a sporting event where the home team often opens as a three-point favorite, the Academy Awards are different.

For instance, the line is not going to move because an actor or actress gets injured while filming a scene.

Instead, Avello said DraftKings uses an index prop system to determine how the lines move. For instance, if Vice isn’t getting action at 100/1 odds, bookmakers adjust the line to 125/1.

“It keeps you in balance with the bettors,” he said.

But Avello is not expecting the Oscars betting handle to reach Super Bowl levels. Without giving an exact number, as of Friday morning, he noted the Oscars action is “more than I expected.”

But in reality, that undisclosed number is only going to increase.

During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, sportsbooks tend to write a lot of bets on Monday and Tuesday, but most of the wagering gets done on Saturday and Sunday.

Like the Big Game, bettors will pretty much have the entire day to place their Oscars bets.

The odds on Best Picture

But the biggest question for bettors on Sunday night is who will win Best Picture.

From a betting standpoint, if any of the underdogs win, some bettors will be looking at a very nice payday. Couple this with the fact that the Best Picture winner is chosen via a unique voting system, and you have the makings for a plot twist.

Here are DraftKings odds for Best Picture as of Friday:

Best Picture NomineeMoneyline
A Star Is Born+4000
Black Panther+3000
Bohemian Rhapsody+3000
Green Book+250
The Favourite+1400

Like an NFL football game, just because one of the films is listed as a favorite (Roma), it’s not a guaranteed lock to win. Actually, when it comes to betting, “lock” is not a word you will hear Avello use.

For instance, he saw Roma twice, and offered this advice:

“I would personally go against Roma. Green Book has a chance and Black Panther has an outside chance. … I think there is the possibility for an upset.”

So in New Jersey, waiting for the Best Picture winner to be announced is going to be similar to watching a game-winning field goal attempt as the final seconds tick off the clock.

What would Oscars betting be without a little drama?

About the Author

Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.