New Jersey was First State to Allow Oscars Betting; It Still Does

New Jersey was First State to Allow Oscars Betting; It Still Does
By Howard Gensler

A lot of fans like to wager on their home teams, but residents of New Jersey have little in the way of hometown favorites to wager on with this year’s Oscars, to be awarded March 27.

New Jersey is one of a handful of states, along with Michigan, Indiana and Louisiana, that allows Oscars betting. You can’t even do that in Las Vegas. But folks who root, root, root for their local heroes are only going to have ... Best Supporting Actress nominee Kirsten Dunst. She’s from Brick, New Jersey, and is in “The Power of the Dog.”

The sad news is you may not even be able to find odds on that category. That’s why some New Jerseyans are trying to claim Oscar-nominated director Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story”) who spent some of his childhood in Camden. Spielberg, however, is an unlikely winner.

New Jersey sports betting was the first to allow wagering on the Oscars in 2019. Although New Jersey permits you to wager on the Oscars, it’s going to be tough to make any money on them.

One of the top legal sports betting states, New Jersey has topped $1 billion in handle for five straight months. It set a state record with $1.35 billion wagered in January.

New Jersey online casinos are also legal.

'Power of the Dog' Favored

There are 10 movies nominated for Best Picture. “Nightmare Alley” is priced at +6600 (according to Caesars Sportsbook NJ), but the odds might as well be +1 million. It’s not a winning bet. A team seeded 16th in the NCAA men’s basketball team has a better chance of knocking off a No. 1 seed than “Nightmare Alley” has of winning Best Picture.

If you want to have a chance at making some money from the Best Picture category, the favorites are Jane Campion’s “Power of the Dog” (-225) and Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” (+260). Films like “CODA” (+900), “West Side Story” (+1000) and “Licorice Pizza” (+2000) are critics darlings, but are longshots when it comes to the odds.

“Dune” (+2000) is the biggest box-office hit of the Best Picture category by a wide margin, but box office has not mattered in recent Best Picture winners. If popularity was the deciding vote, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” would win every award. It made more money than all 10 best picture nominees combined. Favorite “Power of the Dog” made so little money in theaters, its studio doesn’t even count it.

“Power of the Dog” is the type of auteur-driven, angst-filled, ensemble piece that Oscar voters love, even if few outside of New York and Los Angeles have seen it. And one of the reasons “Power of the Dog” is such a heavy favorite for Best Picture is because director Jane Campion is an even heavier favorite in the Best Director category at -1000 ($10 will win you $1).

Campion has been an art-house favorite for three decades and “Power of the Dog” may be her crowning achievement. She’ll be rewarded as a director. In 1994 she won a screenwriting Oscar for “The Piano.”

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Best Actor a Close Call

A far-more competitive category is Best Actor. Will Smith is favored (-500) for his portrayal of Richard Williams — father to Venus and Serena — in “King Richard.” Benedict Cumberbatch at +300 could surprise if voters check off a straight “Power of the Dog” ticket.

Andrew Garfield at +800 for “tick, tick . . . BOOM” seems a longer longshot than Denzel Washington (+2500) for “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and Javier Bardem (+4000) for “Being the Ricardos.”

As there’s no Best Actress nominee from “Power of the Dog,” that category seems more wide open. Jessica Chastain is the co-favorite (+130) for playing Tammy Faye Baker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Nicole Kidman has the same odds for playing Lucille Ball in “Being the Ricardos.”

Kristen Stewart (+400) as a gloomy Princess Diana in “Spencer,” Olivia Colman (+450) in “The Lost Daughter” and Penelope Cruz (+2000) in “Parallel Mothers” are other contenders. And if you’re like most, you’ve probably never heard of many of these films, let alone seen them.

You’ve likely never seen the Best Documentary nominees, but you might know Questlove, drummer for the Roots and “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” His “Summer of Soul – Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised,” a music-laced look at the turbulent 1960s, is favored at -200.



Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist covering the New Jersey sports betting market for Before his focus on U.S. sports betting, Howard worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard is also a founding editor of

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