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This article was published 20/2/2015 (2075 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When will alien extraterrestrial life be proven?
No one knows, but in Manitoba you can bet on the answer to this question and more though novelty betting online at PlayNow.com, a website run by lottery agencies in Manitoba and British Columbia.
That's just one of the oddities on which people can place bets through Manitoba's only legal and regulated gambling website.
Now for the first time, Manitobans can add the Academy Awards to the novelty-betting list. With the Oscars being handed out this weekend, people can now bet on various categories such as which actors, movies and directors they believe will win.
The website has been operating in Manitoba since January 2013 with numerous games, including live and video poker and slots, as well as live sports betting. It added novelty betting last November.
"It's meant to capitalize and bring that entertainment factor to more casual people that wouldn't normally wager on something like a regular sports bet," Chris Fairclough, a senior communications officer with B.C. Lotteries Corp., said in a telephone interview.
"PlayNow.com operates for the governments of Manitoba, the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, and also B.C. Lotteries Corp. in B.C."
He said PlayNow.com has Boyhood as the favourite for Best Picture while Michael Keaton was the early favourite for his work in the movie Birdman with Steve Carell as a longshot to win Best Actor.
Placing novelty bets on PlayNow.com differs from other novelty betting in that it is government-operated and regulated. Other popular gaming options, known as grey-market sites, are generally operated privately.
"These are sites that aren't legal in Canada but people play on them anyway. Instead of going the prohibition route and trying of trying to shut all those places down, we're offering a product that is safe and secure and gives back to the people and repatriates the money. So if you are placing this type of wager, you're doing so in a safe, secure environment," Fairclough said.
"Would you rather your money go back to paying for education and health care or would you rather it go to pay for someone's yacht in the Caribbean? We'll leave that to the players to decide."
At PlayNow.com, Manitobans can place bets for as little as 10 cents, with options to set voluntary spending limits and weekly deposit limits.
When PlayNow.com was launched in Manitoba two years ago by the Selinger government, the Opposition Conservatives expressed concern about the social costs of the government's increased reliance on gambling revenues.
While Manitoba Lotteries invests two per cent of its net income in problem-gambling prevention, it was announced an additional three per cent of the net income from PlayNow.com would go to the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba.
Which movie would you put your money on to win best picture? Join the conversation in the comments below.
Updated on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 7:51 AM CST: Replaces photo, adds question for discussion
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