Film buffs may be able to pay for their Oscar party this year courtesy of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
In a historic first for the country, the Garden State’s DGE has opened up its sports betting establishments to legally accept wagers on the 91st Academy Awards winners.
It’s an area of vice that even Nevada has stayed away from.
“The novelty alone should pique the interest of bettors,” said Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for PlayUSA.com, a Web site dedicated to online gambling news. “People already love to try to predict who will win the Oscars, and now they can actually put their money where their mouth is.”
The Post tested the service by placing a $5 bet on “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the Best Picture award through Web site FanDuel. The site required the reporter to first verify he was in NJ at the time of the bet through geo-location service GeoComply.
Betting is also limited to what a site will offer. DraftKings and SugarHouse are only taking bets on Best Picture while BetStarsNJ is also allowing bets on Best Director, Best Actor and three other categories.
Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” about 1970s Mexico, is leading the pack for Best Picture. PlayMGM has it at -500, which means a $50 bet will win only $10.
By contrast, a $100 bet on the category’s long shot — “Vice,” about ex-Veep Dick Cheney — would return $10,000.
Jersey’s sports-books may opt not to accept some bets since they are trying to keep their risk exposure low during this trial run, said Jessica Welman, a betting analyst for PlayUS.com.
The risk of Oscar betting is that the winners of certain award categories — including sound-editing and makeup and hair — are determined by a small group of practitioners, opening the door to manipulation.
“It’s conceivable that after a few conversations, someone in either group [could] figure out [the] favorite,” Welman said.
This may explain why the DGE is presenting Oscar betting as an experiment — limited to this year only.
Additional reporting by John Crudele
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