Expected to be a TKO: Hillary Swank in ‘Million Dollar Baby’
Betting on the Oscars has gone way beyond office pools and awards-night parties.
Taking action on the Academy Awards has become a growing source of income for online gaming sites, with oddsmakers carefully calculating betting lines to attract wagers on every category from Best Picture to Best Documentary Short.
And a survey of oddsmakers returns this consensus: Unless your name is Jamie Foxx or Hilary Swank, don’t even bother writing an acceptance speech. Both are overwhelming favorites in the lead acting categories.
“Betting on the Oscars has increased a lot in the past five or six years and become a real event with our customers,” says Stuart Doyle, wagering director of Antigua-based gaming company BetWWTS.com. Doyle expects to handle more than $100,000 in movie wagers.
“The Oscars is still a drop in the bucket compared to sports,” says Leo Shafto, the head oddsmaker for mvpsportsbook.com in Costa Rica. “But it has increased enough that it’s become something of value across the [gambling] industry, and we are paying a lot of attention to it.”
Though most Oscar bets are only in the triple-figure range, says Shafto, extensive research goes into calculating Oscar odds.
At BetWWTS.com, for example, a panel of oddsmakers weighed several factors before posting odds on its Web site within an hour after the nominations were announced last month.
“We sit down as soon as the nominations come on TV and we come up with a fairly good idea of who the favorites in each category will be,” says Doyle.
“But we’ve already been doing our research way before that. We’ll look at the results of the other awards, like the Directors Guild or the Golden Globes, which are a big factor.
“We also go on movie Web sites and read forums and blogs to get a real feel from people who know a little more about movies.”
Once set, the line is adjusted to reflect where people are putting their money. Foxx and Swank have seen their odds go down, meaning winners will get a smaller return.
Veteran Vegas situs poker pkv games oddsmaker Lenny Del Genio says that, while being able to scour the Internet has simplified how betting lines are calculated, he prefers to do his homework the old-fashioned way.
He talks to Academy voters.
“I still make phone calls to friends and relatives in the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild before I start the process,” says Del Genio, who has been handicapping the Oscars for nearly 25 years.
At GoldDerby.com, which is not a gambling site, the line is made simply by asking eight movie mavens.
While betting on the Oscars over the Internet is a growing, if illegal, activity in the U.S. – the reason why gaming sites are headquartered “offshore” – it has been slow to catch on with a more traditional source, your friendly neighborhood bookie.
“My guys don’t bother with that Oscar stuff,” says a Queens bookie who calls himself “Billy Whitestone.” “It’s strictly sports.
“Are you kidding me? If I started taking bets on [the Oscars], they’d laugh me right out of the neighborhood.