Gambling line puts ‘Argo’ in front for Oscar

Are you feeling certain, like most, that Daniel Day-Lewis is going to win the lead actor Oscar on Sunday for his title turn in “Lincoln”? If you want to put some money behind that belief, you can, but, given his sure-shot status, you’d better be prepared to wager a bundle to make a pittance.

Many Las Vegas sports books post odds on the Oscar races, from best picture to animated short. It’s all in good fun as U.S. casinos prohibit wagering on entertainment events that have known outcomes, even if it’s by only a handful of accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

You can, however, put down real money online at a number of sites, and in this year’s wide-open Oscars race, business appears to be booming.

“We’re up 20 percent from last year,” says Kevin Bradley, sports book manager for Bovada, a sports betting site licensed in Canada.

Bradley puts his site’s take on Oscars wagering in the “healthy” six-figure range. And some of the money coming to these legal online sites is being bet by industry professionals.

A director, who, for obvious reasons, asked not to be identified, began wagering on the Oscars in 2010 when his favorite movie, “The Hurt Locker,” won Oscars for picture and director Kathryn Bigelow.

“I already had a rooting interest, and money just always makes that rooting interest all the more exciting,” he says. “And, you know, football’s over. Gotta bet on something.”

One academy member who belongs to the producers branch bet on Jeff Bridges in 2010 when the actor won for “Crazy Heart.” Because Bridges was the odds-on favorite, the producer had to gamble $1,000 to win $100.

“It was a nerve-racking experience, even though everyone said he was going to win,” the producer says. His nerves weren’t too frayed to prevent a judicious bet on “Argo” earlier this year, when the best picture candidate, now the category’s odds-on favorite, sported the more enticing 8-1 odds to win.

Sports book managers like Bradley and Vegas’ Wynn/Encore director Johnny Avello adjust their lines throughout the awards season, researching the opinions of Oscars pundits and keeping close track of precursor awards like the Golden Globes and guild contests.

The biggest movement, Avello says, has been in the best picture race, in which “Argo” has surged past “Lincoln” to become a 1-2 favorite to win.

“Four score and seven weeks ago, everybody was betting ‘Lincoln,’” says Avello, who clearly has spent some time listening to the comics in his casino’s showrooms. “Now, nobody. It’s all ‘Argo.’”

The surest winners, according to Bovada’s Bradley, are Day-Lewis in the lead actor race, Anne Hathaway in supporting actress for “Les Miserables” and “Amour” for foreign-language feature. All come in at 1 to 50, meaning that you’d need to wager $500 to make just $10.

“And we’re still getting money on those, especially Day-Lewis,” Bradley says. When informed that Vegas has the “Lincoln” actor at a mere 1 to 9, he whistles in amazement.

“We’d get killed on that,” he says.

But, as noted, the Nevada sports books place the odds on the boards simply for show.

Avello goes well beyond awards shows, laying odds on reality programming like “The Bachelor” (Catherine is the current favorite) to the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. (Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola sits as the 7-2 front-runner.)

“We had a guy the other day walk up to a window, wanting to bet on the Westminster dog show,” Avello says. “Problem was he had last year’s form and, even at that, he wanted to bet on a dog that had no chance to win. It’d be like betting on that little girl (Quvenzhane Wallis) from ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’”

Who, in case you’re interested, comes in at 40 to 1 in the lead actress race.

Best picture odds

“Argo” 1 to 2

“Lincoln” 9 to 5

“Les Miserables” 30 to 1

“Silver Linings Playbook” 35 to 1

“Zero Dark Thirty” 40 to 1

“Amour” 75 to 1

“Life of Pi” 100 to 1

“Django Unchained” 125 to 1

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” 250 to 1

Source: Wynn / Encore

More in Local News

Bicycle tour raises money for dialysis patients

Volunteers also shared health information and put together care packages for homeless women.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Boeing reaches out to schools

Company employees helped Everett students at recent reading and Manufacturing Day events.

5-vehicle collision sends school bus into ditch; no injuries

No students were hurt when a school bus crashed into… Continue reading

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

Theft lands former insurance salesman 50 days in jail

A former insurance salesman is expected to report to jail… Continue reading

Expect river levels to keep rising, though sun is on the way

Some could crest above minor and moderate flood levels.

Oregon senator punished over alleged inappropriate touching

Democratic Sen. Sara Gelser didn’t identify anyone by name.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Most Read