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Oscars odds offered in New Jersey but not Nevada

Johnny Avello made Academy Awards odds in Las Vegas for entertainment purposes only for more than 25 years before leaving to become DraftKings’ sportsbook director.

The Oscars odds are still for entertainment purposes only in Nevada, where the state’s Gaming Control Board hasn’t received a request from a book to offer wagers on the show since 2012, when it was denied.

But Avello, who left Wynn Las Vegas in 2018, and DraftKings are now taking bets on the Oscars for the second consecutive year in New Jersey.

“It’s nice to have them up now and actually take wagers on them,” said Avello, still based in Las Vegas at DraftKings’ new office in Town Square. “It’s worth throwing a few bucks on them if you want to watch the telecast and have some fun. It makes the Oscar parties a little more interesting.”

New Jersey was the only state to offer Oscars betting last year and is the only state offering it this year.

“We put it up just a couple days before the event started last year, and I was really pleased with the action we took,” Avello said. “It was really good for the first time ever doing it.”

Most books, including William Hill, took bets only on the six major Oscars categories last year: best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.

DraftKings is offering odds on all 24 categories at this year’s Academy Awards, scheduled for Feb. 9 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Each of the four acting categories feature prohibitive favorites. Joaquin Phoenix is the 1-16 choice to win the best actor Oscar for his performance in “Joker,” meaning a bettor would have to wager $16 to win $1.

Renee Zellweger is the 1-10 favorite to win best actress for “Judy.” Brad Pitt is the 1-10 favorite to win best supporting actor for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Laura Dern is the 1-10 favorite to win best supporting actress for “Marriage Story.”

Oddsmakers expect the best director and best picture categories to be much closer.

Sam Mendes is the -133 favorite to win best director for “1917,” followed by Bong Joon-Ho at +225 for “Parasite.”

Quentin Tarantino is the 8-1 third choice for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and Martin Scorsese is 10-1 for “The Irishman.”

The biggest favorite of all 24 categories is “Parasite,” a 1-50 choice to win best international feature film.

“Parasite” also is the +450 third choice to win best picture.

“This happened last year when ‘Roma’ was up for best picture and best foreign picture,” Avello said. “If you’re in both categories, you’re a really strong favorite to win the foreign one.”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is the +160 favorite to win best picture, and “1917” is the 2-1 second choice.

“Joker” is the 8-1 fourth pick, followed by “The Irishman” at 16-1.

“‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ has been my favorite for a couple months now,” Avello said. “I don’t know if it’ll go past those top three: ‘Hollywood,’ ‘1917’ and ‘Parasite.’

“‘1917’ came out a little later, and sometimes it’s what’s in their mind lately.”

There were two notable upsets at last year’s Oscars: “Green Book” beat “Roma” for best picture, and Olivia Colman (5-1) stunned 1-9 favorite Glenn Close for best actress.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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