Betting on the Tony Awards could become more mainstream after a recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.
On May 14, the Supreme Court declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a law passed in 1992 that restricted state-sponsored sports gambling, unconstitutional. But as the Supreme Court did not provide much of a directive on how to proceed, states and betting sites may take the opening to expand the world of legalized betting.
“There’s really a kind of a presumption that you can take bets on whatever,” said Jim Murphy, oddsmaker at sportsbettingexperts.com
As Murphy understands it, before this ruling, taking bets on awards shows or other unconventional betting venues like reality shows was not strictly outlawed, but rather did not have clear regulatory framework to follow.
Following the Supreme Court decision, individual states will be given the opportunity to enact laws to regulate and legalize sports betting.
Nevada already has legalized betting on sports, and New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia look to be the first to act following the Supreme Court ruling. That would mean being able to place bets on sporting events at public places like racetracks, casinos or online.
However, there is also the possibility that lawmakers enact federal regulation on placing bets — though Murphy said he thinks that is unlikely.
Betting on the Tony Awards is already a practice among European bookmakers, who have their own set of regulations to follow, Murphy said.
“There are at least two or three books taking bets on the Tony Awards as we speak,” Murphy said.
And under Nevada’s current regulations, sports books can submit a request to the Nevada Gaming Control Board to request wagering on the Tony Awards or other awards shows. In the past, they have approved bets on events such as the Heisman winner and the Reno Air Races.
While much of the current regulation is up in the air, Murphy said he would expect other states to follow suit and delve into other nontraditional areas.
“I would be really surprised if some state didn’t push the envelope,” he said.
Though they may have niche audiences, Murphy said he has seen a high level of interest in odds for awards ceremonies and reality show outcomes after posting about them on his site. And it brings in new demographics as well as the possibility of revenue sharing, he said.
For Murphy, it’s possible to set odds on anything that has accessible statistical data and a definitive outcome i.e. a clear winner and loser. So far he has included odds on weather and who would “get whacked next” on “The Sopranos” on the site.
He also set odds for the Tony Awards this season, using his typical methodology of tracking what fans are saying on sites such as Reddit and Broadway-related sites and then calculating probabilities. His methodology favors “The Band’s Visit,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and “My Fair Lady.”
However, these odds are not predictions of who will win, but rather what the public thinks will happen.
As for what will happen with the gambling industry in the next six months, Murphy said those odds are not as clear-cut.
“There’s really no telling how things end up looking,” he said.