Most of the pastimes that we have today tend to have histories that can span back hundreds and sometimes even thousands of years. Sports betting is no different, with records of the activity being recorded for centuries. The sports betting that we know and love today, however, has really only existed in the last two hundred years, and can be traced back to Victorian England, specifically during the Industrial Revolution.
Here we will look at the long and fascinating history of one of the world’s most beloved pastimes: sports betting.
The Origins Of Sports Betting
It’s almost impossible to tell when people began putting down money on their favourite sports. Some of the earliest records come from the Ancient Greeks, who were known for their emphasis on events like the original Olympics. Spectators at the time were known for wagering on their favourite athletes as they performed in their activity of choice. The wagers would most often be between the spectators themselves, although over time as the pastime developed, individuals and organisations would begin to emerge that would be very much like the bookies that we have today.
These kinds of practices would come and go over the next few centuries, and there was always a strong focus on wagering on various sports, but it never really caught on as much as it did in the 19th century.
Most people during the 17th and 18th centuries did not have access to bookmakers in the same way as the aristocracy, and betting was often something more of a pastime for the elite and wealthy, making it extremely difficult for the common man to bet on his favourite sport.
The Industry Revolution began to change all of that. Suddenly more and more people were starting to gain wealth thanks to their new businesses, and this was the time where sports like horse racing began to grip the nation. It didn’t take long for bookies to start springing up during this period as an outcome of sheer popularity. More people had disposable money to spend, and it allowed the pastime to thrive.
Not long after this, and betting began to spread to the common people. They would gather by their thousands to watch the horses race against one another, and often local establishments, like hotels, pubs, and innkeepers would become the bookmakers as their businesses were usually situated in close proximity to the events. This was also a time when sports betting underwent no regulation, giving it the chance to spread quickly among the people and become a popular way of spending a free afternoon or weekend.
Modern Sports Betting
Despite its growing popularity, it would take another hundred years before it became the booming industry as we know it today. For example, sports betting was illegal in the United States until the 1950s, with Las Vegas being one of the first cities to make it legal. It became legalised in many states around the country along with other kinds of gambling, like online betting NZ, setting a precedent for the rest of the world, and creating an industry that has become a global favourite.