America has a new online gambling addiction: betting on novelty events such as the Oscars, the winner of "American Idol" and even on whether or not Britney Spears would get preggers again before the summer.
"Novelty bets are becoming a significant and surprising revenue generator," said Greg Sindall, a senior analyst at SportsInteraction.com, a sports, casino and current event betting site.
And while men fueled the 100 percent growth in the number of online U.S. gamblers last year -- who laid down roughly $6 billion in bets, mainly on casino games and sports -- women made up nearly half of online novelty bettors.
"Women are so obsessed with celebrities these days, they spend so much time reading the gossip pages and are so invested in it that they figure they may as well put down money since they are following it so closely anyway," said Sindall.
Samantha Lomac, 26, from Forest Hills, N.Y., is far more comfortable betting on celebs like Texan Anna Nicole Smith than on games like Texas Hold'em.
"I'm more of a Star, Us Weekly, Entertainment Weekly kind of girl, so I go with the entertainment bets," said Lomac, who described herself as a casual bettor.
At Sindall's site, women represent just 30 percent of its 400,000 registered users but make up 45 percent of the novelty bets. Industrywide, surveys show women comprise just 32 percent of total online bettors.
The executive expects more than 1,000 bets to be placed on the outcome of this season's "American Idol." Mickey Richardson, CEO of BetCris.com, told The Post total bets placed on his site alone on the opening weekend box office for "The DaVinci Code" is nearing six figures.
And while novelty betting remains just a small piece of the overall online gaming business, according to a survey by the American Gaming Association, gamblers are showing a deep appetite for the category.
Last week, one could bet on whether Connie Chung would divorce Maury Povich (8-to-1), on whether Spears will catch hubby Kevin Federline cheating on her before year's end (18-to-1) and on what Brangelina would name their baby.
The rapid increase in bets on novelty events has caught some off-guard.
Richardson admits that when BetCris.com first put up a line for the Oscars -- the Super Bowl, if you will, of novelty betting -- the lines were made haphazardly because it was little more than a PR stunt to drive traffic to the site.
"Now we have to do a lot of homework to avoid getting sloppy with the numbers because of the amount of bets we get for that event," Richardson said.