Kristen Meinzer is the producer of The Sporkful podcast, culture producer for The Takeaway, and co-host of The Takeaway's Movie Date podcast.
Let’s make something clear. I am not a gambler. I hate the stock market. I have no interest in watching celebrity poker. On the two occasions I visited Las Vegas, I played only the penny slots (and limited the value of the pennies to $20 total for 6 hours, not counting the extra $20 my sister pushed on me).
That being said, I cannot resist a little Oscar gambling. And I’m not alone. According to Gambling911.com, the Oscars are “the 3rd biggest single day betting event of the year after the Super Bowl and Kentucky Derby” and “the most wagered on nonsporting event after the U.S. Presidential race.”
But while the number of Oscar gamblers is high, the wagers themselves tend to be lower than those placed on the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby, mainly because most betting operations allow for low maximum bets (typically $500 for each category, according to Gambling911.com).
My bets tend to be even lower. In some cases, they’re as much as $10, but usually they’re even less. In my perfect Oscar year, I bet nothing at all, and win something anyway.
For example, I used to go to an industry Oscar party every year that cost nothing to attend. Every guest was encouraged to fill out an Oscar ballot for the chance to win fabulous prizes. One year, I came in second and received a boxed set of Michael Moore DVDs, a pair of tickets to a movie house in Manhattan, and shampoo. I was thrilled, until I saw what the first-place winner (my friend, who I brought as a guest) received: roundtrip airfare anywhere in the country (and yes, shampoo as well).
Fortunately, parties aren’t the only place to win the Oscar pool. Everybody, these days, seems to be in on the Oscar gambling excitement; from The New York Times (fill out their online ballot for the chance to win an iPad) to the AMC Cinemas (fill out their online ballot for the chance to win one of five AMC movie passes, good for a free year of movies) to blogs like PopSugar (fill out their online ballot for the chance to win a 30-plus DVD package from Paramount of past Academy Award-winning films).
Want to bet, but don’t even know where to begin with ten best picture possibilities and dozens of other nominees? Check out these odds, courtesy of Bookmaker.com:
Best Supporting Actress
Best Supporting Actor