The first year of Oscars betting is in the books.

And yes, just like with NJ sports betting, the night included a few upsets and surprises. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement likely won’t release the actual handle, so there is no way to know just how much action Oscars betting actually got.

DraftKings Sportsbook, however, released a betting breakdown on all of the major categories in the final day of action before the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

And not surprisingly, the majority of the wagering action remained focused on Best Picture at 58.3 percent. The rest of the major categories barely cracked double digits:

Award% Of Total Oscar Bets
Best Picture58.3%
Best Actor14.12%
Best Actress12.85%
Best Supporting Actor6.09%
Best Supporting Actress6.08%
Best Animated Feature2.57%

Notice out of the big six categories, there is one missing: Best Director. And there’s a reason for that.

Best Director betting drama ahead of Oscars

What would the first year of Oscars betting be without a little drama? This is the Academy Awards, after all.

According to Play NJ, the final hours leading up to the show’s start time included an unexpected swing in the betting action. That swing came from a surge in bets on one nominee for Best Director at both legal NJ sportsbooks and offshore books.

Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed The Favourite, was listed at +1600 by FanDuel Sportsbook at 2 p.m. EST. By 5 p.m. his odds dropped to +500. The line movement at SugarHouse Sportsbook was even more noticeable, dropping from a +2400 longshot to a +270 hopeful.

But was it a conspiracy theory or simply bettors trying to get better odds on the favorite, and actual winner Alfonso Cuaron, who directed Roma? 

SugarHouse showed a huge drop from -2500 to -400 for Cuaron. So those who placed a late wager on Cuaron made out a little better at some of the books.

In any case, the swing in odds caused NJ online sportsbooks to pull the category entirely from feeds, or in some cases, eliminate bets on just Lanthimos.

DraftKings was one such site to take down odds on Best Director, and so did not include a breakdown on those bets.

More DraftKings + Oscars betting trends

Included on the DraftKings’ list was the most popular overall Oscars bets.

And not surprisingly, four of the five were in the running for Best Picture. It seems a lot of people were rooting for Lady Gaga to win Best Actress, as only Black Panther in the Best Picture category received more betting action.

Here are the top five overall Oscar bets:

  1. Black Panther to win Best Picture
  2. Lady Gaga to win Best Actress
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody to win Best Picture
  4. Green Book to win Best Picture 
  5. A Star Is Born to win Best Picture

In terms of Best Picture betting, heading into the weekend, none of the eight nominees were dominating the betting field.

Yes, Roma was considered the favorite, but Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJGS on Friday, “I would personally go against Roma.”

At the time, Roma had odds of -225Green Book, the eventual winner, was at +250, and Black Panther was at +3000.

But if you look at the reported betting percentage from DraftKings on the day of, none of the films pulled away from the field.

Best Picture Nominee% of Bets
A Star Is Born14.23%
Black Panther21.87%
Bohemian Rhapsody17.79%
Green Book15.3%
BlacKkKlansman8.88%
Vice5.5%
Roma8.23%
The Favourite7.71%

Best Actress betting: Not so Close

Heading into the Oscars, Glenn Close was considered the heavy favorite for her performance in The Wife. Besides being the odds-on-favorite across all 13 NJ sportsbooks, the rumblings out of Hollywood was that it was her category to lose.

This was the seventh time she was nominated in the category. Close won the Golden Globe in January and had won other guild awards up until Oscars night.

But it turns out that bettors and the Academy saw things differently.

Bets on Lady Gaga to win was the clear-cut favorite among bettors with 52.63 percent of the action at DraftKings. Here are the most popular leading actress bets:

Best Actress Nominee% of Bets
Yalitza Aparicio12.82%
Glenn Close8.34%
Olivia Colman12.96%
Lady Gaga52.63%
Melissa McCarthy13.24%

But the Oscar-winning ticket went to Colman bettors. That’s right, not the Hollywood favorite or the betting favorite.

As with any other sport in NJ sports betting, upsets are part of the game.

Bill Gelman

About

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.