Humanity has enjoyed predicting who will win a contest since time immemorial. Gambling aficionados with a penchant for pop culture can now bet on one of film's biggest nights, the Academy Awards, in New Jersey. The Associated Press reports that the Garden State will now be allowing people to place legal bets on their predictions for Hollywood's huge awards night, making it the first U.S. state to do so.
The move also marks a rare instance where betting on entertainment events is possible in a practice dominated by major sports events, like the Super Bowl. To wit: The place where one goes to place an individual bet, on the Oscars and otherwise, is called a "sportsbook."
But not all Jersey sportsbooks will be taking the same bets. Some are allowing people to place wagers on many categories, such as Best Original Screenplay, while others are only letting people put their money on big-ticket categories like Best Actress and Best Director. Some sportsbooks, such as BetStars, are only available to New Jersey residents, but it appears that everyone has to be physically present in the state of New Jersey in order to place their respective bets, no matter what sportsbook they choose. Yes, that even goes for online.
Back in May, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 1992 law—the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which banned legal sports betting in every state save for Nevada—and cited it as unconstitutional. New Jersey, as one of the biggest proponents of the ruling, was poised to start rolling on legal sports betting quickly given the new measure.
The move to make the Oscars fair game in New Jersey betting circles has been plagued by stops and starts. In late January, New Jersey regulators sent out a missive to Jersey-based operators, stating that "pre-event betting on The Oscars can be offered for this year only," according to Legal Sports Report. But in early February, the NJ Department of Gaming Enforcement instructed operators to take Oscars odds off their boards and didn't give an explanation as to why. They're now up and running again.
When pressed by the AP about why they were briefly taken down, David Rebuck, director of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement said, "We saw something we wanted to look into a little more closely," but wouldn't say what. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement did not immediately reply to a request for comment from Gothamist.
As of right now, Roma leads the pack for gamblers as the choice for Best Picture, while Glenn Close is the top contender for Best Actress (for her role in The Wife), and Rami Malek's turn as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody makes him the favorite for Best Actor, according to Casino.org. The Oscars will air on February 24th.