The Evolution of Sports Betting

The evolution of sports betting can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks who often made wagers on the winners of the Olympic Games. Later, ceremonial games were played among nobles, and it wasn’t unheard of for commoners to partake in betting on the outcome of any particular game. By the 19th century gambling was considered a sport in its own right. Now, with online sports betting you can bet on anything from the outcome of virtually any sporting event to entertainment events like the Oscars and reality shows like Strictly Come Dancing.

Horse Racing Betting and Bookmakers

Horse racing betting evolved parallel to the Industrial Revolution as inventions and large sums of money opened doors for more expensive leisure activities, such as being a part of the evolution of sports betting. In the earlier 16th and 17th centuries, private races were held by the aristocracy who frequently held these horse “matches” because they were the only ones who had the money to buy horses and so were the only participants. 

Nov 2, 2019; Arcadia, CA, USA; Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard Vino Rosso (10) wins the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic in the 36th Breeders Cup world championships at Santa Anita Park. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

They eventually drew huge crowds, to the delight of local business owners, especially pub owners and Innkeepers. This meant that the events were scheduled to be held closer in proximity to where the people were, at the pubs and inns. The first recorded horse race was in Ireland where riders raced from one church tower to the other while pub owners and Innkeepers took bets. The betting was based on a very simple credit system. When the British government saw the harm done by allowing gambling in establishments that encouraged drinking, it was put to an end in said establishments. It was this necessity that birthed the invention of betting shops run by bookmakers along with The Gambling Act of 1845. 

Large Scale Gambling on the Las Vegas Strip

With the popularity of bookkeepers and sports betting continuing to grow, it sparked new, even larger developments. When sports betting was legalized in Nevada in 1931 it had already acted as a much-needed income to many during the Great Depression. Unfortunately, sports betting had become associated with mobsters as it was still illegal in most states. This is why it comes as no surprise now that the mafia had become heavily invested in the development of the Las Vegas betting scene. 

You still couldn’t place a wager via telephone, you had to be in Las Vegas to place a legitimate and legal sports bet. The same way Al Capone was arrested for tax evasion many mobsters were arrested for illegal gambling despite it being among their more tame offenses against the law. This meant that Las Vegas was placed under a magnifying glass by law enforcement as a hotbed for tax-free money that was easily moved and laundered. Those taking advantage of the unique circumstances would be able to move more freely soon enough, and legitimate sports betting was made available to more audiences via online betting.

Mar 18, 2020; Tampa Bay, Florida, USA; General view of the field passing for the first of two times to start the fourth race of the day as the Tampa Bay Downs is closed to the public at Tampa Bay Downs. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Internet and Online Betting

While Las Vegas may still be considered the birthplace of casinos and the gambling lifestyle, the true home of sports betting is the internet. In May of 2018, the Supreme Court in America ruled that each American state would have to choose if they were to legalize sports betting. Despite this, with credit cards and offshore accounts it no longer matters where in the world you are and what the sports betting laws may be, sports betting is constantly taking place online. 

In South Africa, all gambling venues and online sports betting platforms are legal as long as they hold a full gambling license. It is a booming business and if you haven’t yet, you should sign up and get in on the action