Taking into consideration both legal and illegal markets; the betting industry could potentially be word billions of dollars. It's a favorite recreational activity, and in some cases, profession, all over the world. Betting could not be more convenient in today's world, with all the betting websites available on the internet.
You're never short of an online bookmaker to place your bets with, no matter what your choice may be. But what was the world like before the existence this vast multitude of virtual bookies?
Betting on sports, both legally and illegally, has probably been around since the existence of organized sports itself. Historians had had a rather tricky time pinpointing when it exactly began. It is known that people in ancient Greece placed bets on Olympic sports events. The Romans too followed suit and wagered their money on events like chariot races and gladiator death matches.
Throughout most of history, gambling was condemned and criminalized, and driven underground, creating an illicit, but thriving black market.
A modernized approach to sports betting began with horse racing in the 19th century. It was around this time when professional bookmakers started to emerge. They operated in England and were in charge of accepting and keeping a log of bets from the public and the payout. This practice soon spread to other countries. In 1880, totalizers that automatically calculated the winning odds were invented and made the bookies' job substantially more manageable. This incident led to the emergence of a different form of betting, such as handicap betting. It was during the 20th century that bookkeepers began accepting bets for other sports, a popular one being football
As of now, football is the most popular and profitable sport to bet on, naturally, as there are matches taking place all over the world. The history of betting on football is unclear, just as the history of the origins of the game itself is murky. It is speculated that some form of casual betting has taken place throughout the history of the game.
A more systematic version of betting on football began in the 1920s, in England. People would have football pools, where punters would guess the outcomes of up to 12 matches. In the end, the punter with the most points would win. These pools were a hit with the public, and several bookmakers set up shop during this time, and those who were already established incorporated football pools their usual betting agenda. But at this time, betting was illegal and mostly unregulated.
This case will linger for a few decades, until 1960, when the gambling act was passed. But would take a while for betting to shake its “underground” aura, however. Still, several bookmaking services took off, especially in the 1980 and 1990s.
The advent of the internet helped the growth of gambling and revolutionized the way we would bet forever. Online sportsbooks have made betting more convenient than ever. These emerged in the late 90s. William Hill, for example, one of the first betting websites ever, was launched in 1995. When they were first introduced, punters had very few betting markets to choose from. But as time went by, and more websites emerged, the online betting industry slowly metamorphosed into what it is today.