Lily Gladstone for Best Actress? Oscars Gamblers Are Betting Big.

On Feb. 23, John Richards traveled more than 100 miles to place bets on the Oscars. He took a train from Washington, D.C., to Wilmington, Del., and then hopped into an Uber car to take him to a truck stop in New Jersey.

Once in that state, where bets are legal, he opened his DraftKings, FanDuel and bet365 apps and spent about $1,800 on a series of wagers: Lily Gladstone for best actress, “The Creator” for best visual effects, “Maestro” for best makeup, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” for best animated film, “Oppenheimer” for best sound and “War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko” for best animated short.

Mr. Richards, a 40-year-old statistician at Red Carpet Rosters, a fantasy league site for film awards, has been betting on the Oscars since 2016. Before his trip to the New Jersey truck stop, he had already wagered $2,750 on this year’s awards. In addition to placing multiple bets for Ms. Gladstone, he put $70 on Emma Stone as a hedge.

Mr. Richards is one of a growing number of Oscar gamblers scattered around the world. In the United States, where gambling is regulated at the state level, seven states allow Oscar betting: Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey. Sports betting, however, is allowed in 38 states and the District of Columbia. It became legal in 2018 after the Supreme Court overturned a 1992 law banning sports betting. Later that year, the first Oscar market opened in New Jersey.

Because the outcomes of sports games are unknown before the matches, allowing bets on them is considered less risky than bets on awards shows, whose results are decided in advance. PwC, an accounting firm formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, tabulates the votes for the Academy Awards. According to the Academy’s website, only two partners of PwC know the results before they are announced during the Oscars ceremony. In general, employees that have access to confidential information are not supposed to use that information for personal gain, a PwC spokeswoman said.

John Richards of Washington, D.C., has been betting on the Oscars since 2016.Credit…Hailey Sadler for The New York Times
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