Massachusetts to allow betting on the Oscars and Super Bowl MVP

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Ollie Ring profile picture
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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has voted on its approved catalog of events which will be permitted for wagering in the state upon launch. The MGC has voted to have player award futures and professional drafts as part of its approved catalog, meaning bets on the MVP of the Super Bowl and other speculative futures.

Other ‘out of the ordinary’ events by US sports betting standards include awards and special events such as the Academy Awards (Oscars), Emmy Awards, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, and Major League Eating Sanctioned Events as well. These all came under heading 40 in the proposed catalog 

What missed the cut?

The categories not included, by unanimous vote are:

  • Chess
  • Cornhole
  • Esports
  • Jai Alai
  • Judged athletic competitions (such as the Olympics)
  • Russian and/or Belarusian-sanctioned events
  • Virtual sports

The decisions followed lengthy debate around what constitutes a sport, and what therefore is considered safe to bet on from an integrity point of view. In the end, despite Commissioner Eileen O’Brien’s opposition to the awards and futures market, she was voted down by 3-1 with Commissioner Nakisha Skinner abstaining. This broadly puts Massachusetts sports betting offering in line with the more relaxed and comprehensive spreads of markets.

Established sports betting states like New Jersey and Colorado offer markets on the Oscars, and awards futures whereas stricter states such as Pennsylvania do not allow betting on drafts nor award shows.

For the sports that didn’t provisionally make the cut, there’s time for it to change and the decision is not necessarily final. Obviously the Russia and Belarus sanctioned events will remain in place while war wages in the east, and this was adopted after O Brien’s suggestion of replicating other states blocking of such events. Secondly, the Olympics may not be banned by the time the next competition swings around in 2024. The Commission were undecided on how to treat events on which results were determined by subjective judges such as ice skating and gymnastics.

One could reasonably argue that professional boxing is ultimately decided by a professional judging panel subjectively too, but MMA and fighting events were voted through comfortably.

Esports not being allowed for wagering will be a disappointment for those who champion the burgeoning industry but it’s perhaps unsurprising given that more mature market such as Nevada have been reluctant to include esports competitions, bar specific events played in the State, until recently. While there’s undoubtedly a huge audience for competitive video games, wagering hasn’t necessarily followed as quickly, and given the overall lack of understanding of the esports ecosystem in the States it’ll be a while until states adopt esports betting readily.

How is the betting looking for The Oscars?

Given the imminent launch of MA sports betting, there’ll be plenty of markets for bettors to get stuck into, including that of the 95th Annual Academy Awards 2023. Early betting markets suggest that Everything Everywhere All at Once is large favorite for Best Picture, with Brendan Fraser (The Whale) and Cate Blanchett (Tar) in pole position to take the Best Actor and Best Actress titles.

Ollie is an experienced writer covering everything from esports to regulatory developments in the USA. He loves obscure data points and the occasional lousy parlay on 20 tennis players which inevitably loses.

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