Las Vegas Oddsmakers like "Gladiator," Russell Crowe and Julia Roberts as favorites to win Academy Awards this year.
Las Vegas bookmakers starting posting odds by noon Tuesday, soon after Oscar nominations were announced.
Joe Lupo, race and sports book manager at the Stardust hotel-casino, said he has "Gladiator" favored at 9-5 because it received the most nominations, 12.
The other best-picture nominees are "Chocolat," 8-1; "Erin Brockovich," 4-1; "Traffic," 3-1; and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," which had 10 nominations, 6-1.
John Avello, director of the race and sports books for Bally's and Paris hotel-casinos, also likes "Gladiator," at 2-1.
"It was my favorite when I put it up in December, then it won the Golden Globe and I'm sticking with it," he said. "But 'Traffic' is a close second at 3-1."
The Oscars will be presented March 25 in Los Angeles.
Lupo said oddsmakers use theoretical win percentages to calculate the odds, as they would on a sporting event. The odds are hypothetical and for entertainment only, however, because state law prohibits wagers on events in which the outcome is known beforehand.
If the entertainment odds were for real, they would be different, said David Scott, senior analyst for Las Vegas-based America's Line, who has "Gladiator" as the favorite but at 1-2, meaning one would have to bet $2 to win $1.
"You can afford to be a lot more generous when you can't take a bet on it," he said, referring to the Las Vegas Strip sports books.
For best actor, Avello has "Gladiator" star Crowe favored by 2-1 and two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks ("Cast Away") 3-1, with Geoffrey Rush ("Quills") at 4-1. Lupo favored Crowe 2-1, but his odds on Hanks are 7-2 because he doesn't believe "Cast Away" carried "the weight some of his other movies did."
Scott likes Hanks 4-5, over Crowe, 8-5. "But if there's a 'Gladiator' sweep, Crowe could be part of that."
Both books have Julia Roberts ("Erin Brockovich") as the even-money favorite for best actress; Scott has her as a 1-7 favorite.