DraftKings Sportsbook’s Director Talks 2020 Oscars Betting After Seeing All 9 Films

Sunday is Hollywood’s biggest night. It’s the night America finds out which movie takes home the Oscar for Best Picture.

In New Jersey, there is the added layer with Oscars betting.

DraftKings Sportsbook has odds on the big six categories along with smaller ones such as Sound Mixing and Costume Design.

DraftKings Sportsbook director Johnny Avello has seen all nine nominated films. So, besides talking odds, he weighs on this year’s top movies.

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Breaking down the Best Picture field

The Oscar for Best Picture goes to …

… Well, you’ll have to watch the end of the Academy Awards to find out.

In terms of odds, DraftKings has World War I film 1917 (-250)  as the favorite. But will it prevail?

“I think it’s interesting, from the film side, we made Once Upon a Time in Hollywood our original favorite. It’s no longer our favorite.

“1917 is, which opened up at 2-to-1 is now the favorite at 1-to-2. I personally didn’t like the movie.”

“The directing was very good. The cinematography was excellent, but the movie itself was not. … I didn’t think it was that well-written, number one. And I thought it was dragged on parts where it shouldn’t have.”

1917 is a heavy favorite for Best Cinematography (-5000). DraftKings has it as the frontrunner for Sound Editing (-278) and Sound Mixing (-250).

He noted it’s probably going to win for sound.

Getting back to Best Picture winner, Avello sees it coming down to one of three films.

“Now the one movie I thought was also very good was Parasite. It was a subtitled movie,” said Avello.

“It’s also up for best foreign film, and that’s rare to win both of those.

“But I thought Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Parasite were both better than 1917. And I don’t think that it’s going to go much deeper than those three to be honest with you.”

Parasite is +350 while Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is +800.

Betting on Best Picture at DraftKings

New players to DraftKings are eligible for a limited-time Oscars Best Picture Winner Special. Correctly bet $10 on the Best Picture winner and you’ll win $100.

Click here to create your account and claim the offer.

The fine print:

  • Offer is available to new players only
  • You must place your bets before 7:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 9
  • Valid on a $10 wager only

2020 Oscars betting going smoother

Oscars wagering was a big deal in 2019. It was the first time it was legal in any state, including Nevada.

New Jersey was the only state where it was legal.

In terms of numbers, the Oscars handle came in at $747,696, with the amount paid out totaling $565,179.

Avello noted that last time around, there were some system issues pertaining to how to display the odds on the kiosk. But overall, Avello was pleased with the way things played out.

“Last year’s handle, I thought, was really good for the limited amount of time we had it up,” said Avello. “And, this year, I expect it to be even more so. So, the only thing that may prohibit a little action, and it always does is that there’s strong favorites.

“There’s big favorites and there always is. But then you look on the other side and see if you can find a gem out there. That’s where you’re getting some lucrative odds.”

No joke: Joaquin Phoenix is a heavy favorite

Joaquin Phoenix has earned rave reviews for his portrayal of Arthur Fleck in Joker.

Last month, he took home the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture. He is currently -5000 to take home the Oscar.

Of course, there is a chance one of the other nominees produces a surprise win for bettors.

Here is the rest of the field:

  • Adam Driver +1000
  • Leonardo DiCaprio +3300
  • Antonio Banderas +5000
  • Jonathan Pryce +6600

So, how will the Best Actor race play out?

“[The odds] will steer the small bettor away from the Joaquin Phoenix. Nobody’s putting up $33 to win a dollar,” Avello said last week when the odds were -3335. “There might be somebody that may put up 1,000 bucks or so to bet on him because that is the limit.”

Oscars Betting At DraftKings Sportsbook Highlights Upsets And Pre-Show Drama

Just before the 2019 Academy Awards kicked off on Sunday, DraftKings Sportsbook revealed Oscars betting trends in Best Picture, Best Actress and beyond.

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%
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.

DraftKings Sportsbook Director Gives A Big Picture Look At Oscars Betting

Johnny Avello said the action on Oscars bets at DraftKings NJ sportsbook is “more than I expected,” but Oscars betting action will continue into the weekend

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.

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
Roma -225
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?

Last Chance To Bet On The Oscars For Free Thanks To Caesars Sportsbook

The 91st Academy Awards is just a few days away, but Oscars betting is still available and you can get $10 free with Caesars Sportsbook bonus code.

Yes, you can bet on the outcome of the 2019 Academy Awards in New Jersey, and you can even place a bet for free.

Caesars Sportsbook has posted six Oscars betting lines ahead of the 91st Academy Awards ceremony. The big night happens this weekend on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Plus, anyone older than 21 and inside New Jersey who signs up for a new account with Caesars Casino & Sports will immediately get a free $10 bet they can use to wager on the Oscars.

Caesars NJ online sportsbook gives you the opportunity to bet on the Academy’s big six categories:

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

Plus, Caesars Casino & Sports has a seventh option that allows you to bet a parlay consisting of the three Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress favorites.

Basically, you can bet Roma (Best Picture), Rami Malek (Best Actor) and Glenn Close (Best Actress) all to win Oscars at +100.

Of course, the first thing you need to do to bet on the Oscars is to sign up for an account with Caesars Sportsbook.

Signing up with Caesars

Just follow these step-by-step instructions, and you’ll be ready to make your 2019 Oscars bets in no time:

  • Visit Caesars Casino & Sports.
  • Hit the “Play Now” button.
  • Choose your login details and hit NEXT.
  • Enter your personal details and hit NEXT.
  • Update all contact information.
  • Enter the Caesars Sportsbook bonus code BETFREE10 underneath where it reads “Did you receive a bonus code to join? Enter it here. (optional)”
  • Check the boxes accepting the terms and conditions, certifying that all information is correct and you are not prohibited from betting, acknowledging that it is prohibited to allow someone else to use access your account and choose if you want to receive promotional offers.
  • Click on the “Join Now” button.

As long as you entered the Caesars Sportsbook’s bonus code BETFREE10 you’ll receive a free $10 bet you can use to bet on the Oscars.

Betting on the Oscars

Betting on the Oscars at Caesars Casino & Sports is a simple process.

The nominees in each available category have moneyline odds posted on whether they will win the award. Just browse through each category and start picking winners.

If you’re right, Caesars NJ gambling site will pay off the wager at the odds posted at the time you placed the bet.

For example, look at the odds in the Best Picture category as of Feb. 20:

  • Roma -275
  • The Green Book +350
  • The Favourite +1500
  • A Star is Born +4000
  • BlacKkKlansman +2500
  • Black Panther +2500
  • Bohemian Rhapsody +2500
  • Vice +10000

This means you’ll need to bet $320 on Roma to win $100 plus your bet back. It also means a $100 bet on The Green Book will get you $400 plus your bet back if it wins.

Plus, you can bet a long shot like Vice with your $10 free bet and you’ll get $1,010 back if it manages the big upset at the Oscars this year.

Betting on the Oscars at Caesars Sportsbook is that easy — really.

But remember, you’ve only got a few days left to do it ahead of the Feb. 24 Oscars ceremony beginning at 8 pm EST.

Oscars odds at Caesars Sportsbook

Keep checking the Oscars odds on Caesars NJ sports betting app over the next few days to see if anything changes at the last minute.

Plus, seek out inside information before you make your picks, like what films have already taken home various guild awards this year. These are almost always great predictors as to who will win an Academy Award.

Finally, don’t forget there are upsets at the Oscars every year.

That means you can bet a long shot at Caesars’ online app and turn your $10 free bet into something really substantial if you correctly predict the Cinderella story coming out of the 2019 Acadamy Awards.

Here’s a look at the longest Oscars odds on Caesars Sportsbook (as of Feb. 20):

  • Place a $10 bet on Vice, and you’ll win $1,010 if it manages to win Best Picture.
  • Put $10 down on Viggo Mortensen or Willem Dafoe, and you’ll get $410 back if the one you bet on wins Best Actor.
  • Place a $10 bet on Melissa McCarthy or Yalitza Aparicio, and you’ll win $510 if the one you bet on wins Best Actress.
  • Put $10 down on Cold War director Paweł Pawlikowski, and you’ll earn $510 if he takes home the Oscar for Best Director.
  • Make a $10 bet on Sam Rockwell, and you’ll earn $510 if he wins Best Supporting Actor.
  • Put $10 on Marina de Tavira, and you’ll win $260 if she wins the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

How The Oscars Preferential Ballot Shakes Up Betting Odds For Best Picture

If Oscars betting is on your mind, consider that the Best Picture Academy Award uses a different type of ballot, which is why the winner is unpredictable.

With the final round of Oscar voting currently underway, now is the perfect time for a refresher on how the winner of the big prize, the Academy Award for Best Picture, will be chosen.

Unlike the other 23 categories, which are decided by popular vote, the winner of Best Picture is determined using a preferential ballot.

So, before you line up your Oscar betting plans, let’s take a closer look at how the Best Picture award is decided.

How is the Best Picture Oscar winner chosen?

Voters are asked to rank the eight nominees in order of their preference.

When the accounts at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) sort the ballots, they place them in stacks based on first-place votes. Then, they eliminate the movie with the fewest first-place votes, giving those votes to each ballot’s second-ranked film.

The process continues until one movie has more than 50 percent of the vote. That movie will be the Best Picture winner at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 24.

The preferential ballot and the most-liked film

More often than not, the Best Picture winner is the one that placed second or third on most ballots.

It’s more about the movie that’s most generally liked — or least disliked — than the absolute best movie of the year.

For example, at the 2017 Academy Awards, more voters ranked Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight higher than Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, but the romantic musical may have had more first-place votes for Best Picture.

Unfortunately, PwC doesn’t release these numbers to the public, so there’s no way of knowing how the voting shakes out at the end.

The race for this year’s Best Picture winner

While there are eight nominees, this year’s Best Picture scene is a two-horse race: Peter Farrelly’s Green Book versus Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma.

It’s the Producers Guild and Golden Globe winner against the Directors Guild and BAFTA winner.

Roma, a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón’s upbringing in Mexico City, is the current frontrunner at NJ sports betting sites, but Green Book — a biopic about the friendship between Italian-American bouncer Tony “Lip” Vallelonga and African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley — is close behind.

A deeper look into Best Picture Oscar betting

For its Best Theatrical Motion Picture award, the Producers Guild of America expanded the field of nominees and adopted preferential balloting in 2010.

The first six PGA winners repeated at the Oscars. Recently, however, there have been a couple of shake-ups.

In 2016, the PGA went with The Big Short while the Academy awarded Spotlight. The following year, the PGA recognized La La Land with the Academy choosing Moonlight.

Still, with Green Book’s PGA win, the math could work in the film’s favor if it lands at the No, 2 or No. 3 spot on the majority of Oscar ballots.

Keep in mind that, while many voters will see Roma as the superior film (and a lock for Best Director and Best Foreign Film), Green Book could benefit from being the most generally liked, which is what the Best Picture race is all about.

Currently, GoldDerby experts have Roma as a 4/1 favorite over Green Book, which is trending upward at 6/1. After winning Best Film, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director at the BAFTA Awards, Roma has gained considerable momentum in the midst of Oscar balloting.

As of Feb. 19, DraftKings Sportsbook has Roma at -335 while Green Book is at +450. The other Best Picture nominees range from a longshot (The Favourite at +1200) to no chance in hell (Vice at +8000).

A dark horse is in the mix, too

One of the nominees, Black Panther (+2500), could pull off a huge surprise, however. Co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler (of Fruitvale Station, Creed), Black Panther became the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time with more than $1.35 billion worldwide.

It’s easily the most popular film among the nominations, and it’s the first superhero film ever to receive such recognition. In total, the film racked up seven nominations at the Academy Awards, three nominations at the Golden Globes and two wins at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

We should also mention that there’s a lot of bad juju on Green Book. Dr. Shirley’s relatives condemned the film for its historical inaccuracies; co-star Viggo Mortensen used a racist slur during a promotional panel discussion; co-writer Nick Vallelonga’s anti-Muslim tweets resurfaced. All of that could turn off Oscar voters.

If Academy voters choose to recognize Black Panther by placing it in the second-place or third-place spot over the controversial Green Book, we might have an upset on our hands.

And that’s the unpredictable nature of the preferential ballot.