Is Allowing Bets On The Academy Awards, Grammys A Good Idea?

Written By Martin Derbyshire on October 18, 2018 - Last Updated on February 12, 2019
Should Nevada regulators allow real-money wagers on events such as the Academy Awards and Grammys?

Sports betting fever is sweeping the nation, and that means betting companies are going to have to get creative if they want to keep up with ever-growing competition. The OG of sports betting is Nevada, the only state it has been legal in for well over 50 years until this past May, when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was repealed.

With legalization spreading from state to state, sports betting hot spots such as New Jersey are looking to topple Nevada at warp speed. According to Bloomberg, the Garden State could surpass Nevada in betting revenue by 2020.

Thoughts from the Nevada Gaming Control Board

Though games such as football and basketball dominate betting, the Nevada Gaming Control Board is considering changing the rules governing sportsbooks to allow them to take real-money wagers on award shows and events. These include the Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, and Grammy Awards–mainstream events that have a broad appeal to both sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

On Tuesday, the Board met to discuss various issues surrounding the current state of sports betting and what this newfound competition could mean. As the Nevada Resort Association’s Scott Nielson suggested in asking the Board to consider allowing sportsbooks to open such betting markets, the Board can create a list of events it is comfortable with from an integrity standpoint, and force sportsbooks to get Board approval first.

But there are integrity questions that surround betting on contests of a subjective nature. Particularly, contests with outcomes that are set long before they are publicly released. For these reasons and more, entertainment awards shows are far from the same thing as live sporting events.

After all, the Board has already approved betting on similarly conducted post-season sports awards. This includes various pro sports league MVPs and US College Football’s Heisman Trophy.

Trusting the process?

As far as Nielson is concerned, the process for determining who wins an Oscar is well-known and trusted. (At least as much as any post-season sports award.) It’s an accepted fact that should answer all inevitable integrity questions before they’re even asked.

Moreover, Nielson even suggests allowing betting on something like the winner of NBC’s The Voice–an event possibly more similar to sports because the outcome of the singing competition is determined by live voting, not pre-printed on an envelope.

Nielson isn’t wrong in saying these types of things might provide an interesting wager for some.

Offshore online sportsbooks have taken bets on things like the Academy Awards before, proving there’s a market for it. And by the way, no one has found any evidence of a fix since offshore bookmakers started taking such bets.

Additionally, Nevada sportsbooks have been known to set lines on events like the Grammys for entertainment purposes only.

Keeping Nevada sportsbooks competitive

As legal sports betting spreads nationwide, fewer people are traveling to Las Vegas for the purpose of placing a wager. Nevada sportsbooks are taking a big hit. Perhaps the time has come to allow these operations to access new revenue streams like this to help them compete.

Not doing it because of the integrity questions it raises seems like the same kind of archaic thinking sports leagues and anti-gambling zealots seem to want to apply to traditional sports betting itself.

Of course, the proposed changes leave out betting on political elections. In fact, there’s language in the amendment prohibiting wagering on the outcome of any election. This includes those inside the state or out if it.

This is not to say politicians can’t be trusted. It’s just the Board has zero interest in facing integrity questions regarding something so serious.

The board is apparently considering making the changes over the next few weeks. Here’s hoping they say yes before the next Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2019. Word on the street is Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper‘s A Star Is Born is a lock for Best Picture.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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