OSCARS: How Vegas Plays the Votes

02/15/2002 11:14AM

Until the winners are announced on March 24, only the accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers will know which stars are taking home Oscar gold. But Las Vegas oddsmaker Johnny Avello is betting that he already knows, reports PEOPLE. Avello, director of Race and Sports Operations at Bally's/Paris in Las Vegas, has been setting Oscar odds in Sin City for three years and claims he's been on the money 75 percent of the time so far. There's no real science behind it, he says. "I do a little networking, talk to some of the insiders in Hollywood, and trust my own opinion," he explains. This year he's predicting that "A Beautiful Mind" star Russell Crowe is a near shoo-in for the Best Actor prize, and that Nicole Kidman will come out on top for Best Actress for her work in "Moulin Rouge" even though Sissy Spacek ("In the Bedroom") took home a Golden Globe last month. Although the casinos can't actually take bets on the Academy Awards (because a select group of people know the outcomes -- unlike sporting events, which are left to chance), the Oscar odds are always a fan favorite. "We've been asked to do it again every year because it's so popular -- by everyone from Hollywood folks to customers who come in," says Avello. "A lot of the time people are more interested in the Oscar odds than the sporting events."

The complete Vegas Oscar odds, as told to PEOPLE by Avello:

BEST PICTURE
"A Beautiful Mind": 2-1
"Moulin Rouge": 3-1
"In the Bedroom": 4-1
"The Lord of the Rings": 6-1
"Gosford Park": 12-1


BEST DIRECTOR
Ron Howard, "A Beautiful Mind": 2-1
Ridley Scott, "Blackhawk Down": 3-1
Peter Jackson, "The Lord of the Rings": 4-1
Robert Altman, "Gosford Park": 6-1
David Lynch, "Mulholland Drive": 10-1


ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Russell Crowe, "A Beautiful Mind": EVEN
Tom Wilkinson, "In the Bedroom": 3-1
Sean Penn, "I Am Sam": 6-1
Denzel Washington, "Training Day": 8-1
Will Smith, "Ali": 10-1


ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jim Broadbent, "Iris": EVEN
Ben Kingsley, "Sexy Beast": 2-1
Ian McKellen, "The Lord of the Rings": 6-1
Jon Voight, "Ali": 10-1
Ethan Hawke, "Training Day": 15-1


ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Nicole Kidman, "Moulin Rouge": 2-1
Sissy Spacek, "In the Bedroom": 3-1
Halle Berry, "Monster's Ball": 4-1
Judi Dench, "Iris": 6-1
Renee Zellweger, "Bridget Jones's Diary": 10-1


ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jennifer Connelly, "A Beautiful Mind": 2-1
Marisa Tomei, "In the Bedroom": 3-1
Kate Winslet, "Iris": 4-1
Maggie Smith, "Gosford Park": 6-1
Helen Mirren, "Gosford Park": 8-1

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