Betting on the Oscars Explained

Betting on The Oscars: How Does That Work? Expert Oscars Betting Guide

Betting in America has been revolutionized by the recent legalization of sports betting throughout the nation. It seems like every week, a new state is legalizing sports betting, or a sportsbook is partnering with a new venue or professional team.

The growth in popularity of this market has spilled over into betting as a whole, with major events such as the Academy Awards, or “Oscars” as it is better known, drawing huge interest from the betting crowd. 

For those who do not know, the Oscars is annual awards show highlighting the best technical and artistic performances in films. It is regarded as the most prestigious awards ceremony and honor in the entertainment industry worldwide— and betting on the Oscars has never been easier.

The History of the Oscars

The award was first presented in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Cedric Gibbons came up with the design that was later sculptured and used as the trophy by George Stanley.

The first “Best Actor” winner was Emil Jenkins, who received credit for his roles in The Last Command and The Way of all Flesh. Other awards, including Best International Feature Film, have been added since then. 

Parasite became the first film to win Best Picture after being taped in a language other than English. The South Korean thriller-comedy won the award in early 2020 and earned nearly 17x its production budget.

Betting on the Oscars

Oscars betting was first conceptualized in 2019 when almost every New Jersey sportsbook offered betting lines on the would-be award winners at the grand event. Betting availability has since expanded and will reach more states with every passing year.

There are 24 categories that will receive awards at the Oscars; some sportsbooks may offer betting odds on all 24 of these, but there is a near guarantee that participating sportsbooks will provide lines for the “Big Six.” This includes Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.

The “Big Six” categories drive most of the media attention and headlines before, during, and after the ceremony. The committee will even occasionally hand out awards for other categories during commercial breaks or while television cameras are distracted, heightening the visibility of these six.

How to Bet on the Oscars

All Oscars bets are a moneyline bet.

Moneyline bets are straight-up, “who is going to win?” bets that have no variability and do not account for circumstances, competition, or any other external factor. This is the simplest form of betting, in which a bettor simply picks a line— in this case, an actor, actress, director, filmmaker, movie, or something related in the entertainment industry— and places a wager that they will win an Oscar for a particular category. 

As is the case with any sort of moneyline bet, the favorites are denoted by a “-” at the beginning of their value, while underdogs are signified by a “+”; if there is no bet with a “-” value, then the actor, actress, or film line with the number closest to +100 is the favorite for the Oscar in that category. 

So, if the odds to win the best actor read +150, +200, +280, +300, and +600, the line of +150 will be the expected winner of the award; in the case of -130, +300, +300, +450, and +800, the -130 is a heavy favorite and would be hard to beat.

For those who are not deeply involved in the betting world and do not quite grasp tougher concepts like Asian handicaps, spreads, or parlays, these basic moneyline bettting are great transitions into the betting world that maintain a simple approach.

How to Prepare for Oscars Betting

Any bettor worth their weight will be invested and informed in what they are risking their money on; the same applies to Oscars betting, and all prospective gamblers should have a basic understanding of the people and films that will be appearing at the ceremony.

If an interested participant knows nothing about 75% of the people and films that were nominated but has a ton of information on every candidate in two categories, then the best chance to win money will come in those two categories. Risking money in the other 22 on things that extend beyond a gambler’s knowledge will just be setting them up for failure and asking them to predict a world that they know nothing about. 

So, how does one do enough research to prepare for Oscars betting?

Well, first and foremost, that person will want to identify certain categories that they plan on placing wagers in. It does no good to know everything there is to know about one movie up for nomination in every category but nothing about the competition. 

Doing research does not mean simply watching movies, although it does help. Research primarily extends to reading different reviews and gauging the general interest from the public and critics to get a better feel for which movies and people are being received the best.

Another important bit of knowledge would be looking at recent trends within certain categories or seeing how favorites perform compared to underdogs. Using that information, reference the listed odds and come up with a conclusion on what bet is primed for success.

Tracking Film Festivals

It would be pretty hard to figure out who was going to win the Super Bowl without a regular season in the National Football League, right? Well, the same concept applies here with film festivals.

As important as individual opinions are, the Oscars is about identifying the thoughts of the masses; one way to accurately track what critics are thinking and when they were thinking it is by looking at the results of film festivals throughout the calendar.

Five notable film festivals include the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and Sundance Film Festival, all of which can be used as previews of what is to come at the Oscars.

Who Picks the Winners?

Oscars winners are selected by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an 8,000-person organization that is comprised of individuals in different roles throughout the filmmaking industry. 

The Academy is made up of multiple branches, each of which is responsible for at least one category at the Oscars. This ensures that experts are voting on areas that they are most familiar with and not required to weigh in on areas they are inexperienced in. 

Directors vote for best director, actresses vote for best actress, animators vote for best animation, and so on. 

Best Picture Oscars Voting

The Best Picture award is seen as the biggest award at the event, for it simply picks which movie was the best of the year. Strip away all of the glitz and glamor, and this is exactly why the awards show was created in the first place, to determine which film stood above the others. 

All of the other categories allow committee members just one vote when filling out their ballots, so, like the moneyline bettors, all sort of variability and preferential ranking bears no result aside from which movie, actor, actress, etc. was the very best. This is not the case with the best picture, however.

Ranking System Enhances Chance of Winning for Second and Third-Place Movies

The Best Picture voting process allows committee members to rank their movie picks in order from best to worst, which helps movies in second or third-place on some lists substantially; rather than getting the short stick of an “all-or-nothing” vote, they are allowed to move above the inferior competition and still have a legitimate chance of winning the award, depending on the results of the other voters.

This system was implemented because of the increased number of nominees within the category and is called “preferential voting.” It is not scored in the most traditional manner, such as accumulation of points assigned to each place in the voting rankings, though.

Preferential voting looks at all of the results and first counts the first-place votes; if a movie has 50% of these votes, then it is declared the winner, but if no movie reaches this target, the counting then moves to second-place votes. If a movie has over 50% of the votes in first and second-place voting, it is declared the winner, and if not, the process then moves to third-place votes, and so on until a winner is determined.

How are Odds Determined?

Betting odds for Oscars nominees are determined by tracking different metrics of performance, such as box office success, results at festivals, and overall feedback from critics and the public.

There is no perfect system that will get the favorite and underdogs correct every time, but the odds are usually a fair reflection of the overall strength a film, actress, director, etc. has at the Oscars.

Upsets happen all the time at the Oscars, just as they do in sports, so picking when and where they are going to happen is how bettors can find the most value while still sticking to strictly moneyline bets.

What are Payouts

Payouts are simply how much money is returned to a bettor for a successful bet and depend entirely on their initial investment and the odds that a bet had at the time that it was placed.

Note: betting lines move over time, so the value associated with the bet at the time the bet was sent in is what will be used to calculate the payout rather than where the line is at when the award winner is announced.

If any odds are preceded by a “-,” then the number that is attached equals the investment that needs to be placed to profit $100. For example, a -145 favorite will need $145 to return a $100 reward to the bettor in addition to the initial $145 deposit.

Conversely, any bet with “+” odds, whether it is the favorite or one of the underdogs, has an entirely different method of calculating the payout. The + means that a $100 deposit will return the investment and the number listed in the odds. So, a +230 value means that a $100 bet would earn the bettor a $230 profit on top of their initial investment.

Keep in mind that, while odds are often similar or identical across different sportsbooks, there are sometimes substantial differences. Looking around multiple sportsbooks to see which one is providing the best odds for a particular bet is called “line-shopping” and is something that every bettor should practice when throwing down large sums of money.

Hunting for picks that are likely to happen and also have positive (+) odds is the hardest part of being a successful bettor, but can also be the most rewarding, financially and mentally. 

Where Can I Bet on the Oscars?

Betting on the Oscars is not yet accepted nationwide and is limited to certain states that have drafted legalization. Lists of states that are offering Oscars betting lines can easily be located online with a quick search. 

Most offshore sportsbooks have been offering betting odds for the Oscars for years and will likely be able to service interested parties.

Betting on the Oscars, Concluded

Betting on the Oscars is like betting on any other major event or sport— it requires knowledge, understanding, patience, awareness, and intelligence.

The best bettors tend to stick with hefty sums thrown on a smaller amount of wagers, so it is important to spend enough time properly searching for what seems like it is a guaranteed win, even if there is no such thing

Those who are new to the betting world should try not to get carried away and stick to a budget or predetermined plan to help keep themselves in check. Reading online for different strategies is also a great way to help combat a lack of experience.

At the end of the day, Oscars betting is meant to be fun and should be treated as such. With a wide variety of categories, thrilling entertainments, and the best that the film industry has to offer all on display, Oscars betting is a great way to get involved in the gambling market.

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Oscars Betting FAQs

Lists of states that are offering Oscars betting lines can easily be located online with a quick search. 

Payouts are simply how much money is returned to a bettor for a successful bet and depend entirely on their initial investment and the odds that a bet had at the time that it was placed.

Oscars winners are selected by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an 8,000-person organization that is comprised of individuals in different roles throughout the filmmaking industry.