The first recorded evidence of gambling dates back 5000 years to Mesopotamia. Miraculously, even betting slips from 1000 years BC has managed to survive in China. But while bets on dice and cards were common, do you know the history of the sports bet?
If not, then we can help you track its progress through history. Read on as we give the history of sports betting.
Origins of Gambling
It is hard to trace the exact origins of gambling, as so many cultures partook in it as a form of entertainment. One thing that links them all is that it seemed to be widely taken part in, yet vilified in equal measure much as it is today.
Greek mythology had two gods devoted to gambling: Pan and Hermes. Even mythology tells stories of the gods gambling with dice to split the universe between them. Many artifacts remain that show scenes of people sports betting on dog and chicken fights.
The Roman Empire was also obsessed with gambling. Emperor Augustus was an addicted gambler and Emperor Commodus even went bankrupt through addiction. As a result, vilification followed during the medieval era pushed by the church, droving it underground.
History of Sports Betting
It was during the industrial revolution in the United Kingdom that organized betting on horse races began. Originating in the 16th and 17th centuries, they were reserved for the gentry and aristocracy who had money to use for leisure purposes. Known as matches, it was mainly those who owned the horse that could place bets.
During the reign of Charles II, these events became more accessible to the public. His passion for racing made them bigger and better than ever, attracting larger crowds. With it came larger sums of money.
Bookkeeping then moved to local pubs and inns near the venues of big races. As marketing the races gave a huge boost to the business of these establishments, they began to organize events.
The first steeplechase was invented in Ireland by innkeepers. They would make horses run from one church to another jumping everything in their way.
The First Bookmakers
These early days of gambling were unregulated and based on a credit system. Having this occur close to alcohol was understandably having consequences. This led to the banning of gambling and sports betting legalization in bookmaking shops with the Gambling Act of 1845.
Originally, most bets would not be made in cash but in physical assets and objects. A bookmaker would have to decide on the value of an object.
The value would be placed in cash into a cap. Players would put their hands in the hat and remove it to show they agreed with the value, or remove it to show disagreement. “Hand in cap” became the word handicap, which soon entered gambling parlance to describe a disadvantage in a race.
Gambling in the United States
Legal gambling in the US is a fairly new phenomenon. Before this, gambling was reserved for horse betting much like the United Kingdom. It was not until the rise in popularity of baseball around 1876 that it became available to those outside the rich and powerful.
Its popularity harmed the game. Whole teams would end up throwing matches to get a payday such as with the infamous Black Sox scandal.
At this time, it was still illegal and unregulated. Mostly ran by the mafia, any outcomes that the gambler did not deem fair were seldom queried.
1931 would see betting legalized in the state of Nevada. Las Vegas and its wealth of casinos appeared and became a mecca for betting. As you had to physically walk into the casino to place a bet, people would travel from miles around bolstering the city’s appeal and wealth.
Anyone who did not have access to one of these would have to turn to local bookmakers, who were usually mafia. As time went on sports betting laws became introduced and regulated in various states to drive this out.
Future of Sports Betting
Sports betting is now intertwined with the growth of globalization and technology. People can place bets from all over the world on niche sports and fixtures. You can be in the US and bet on a second-division English soccer match at the touch of a button.
Much of this has been down to the rise of mobile devices. With an application, people can have instant access to a wealth of betting options. This has transformed the industry, even allowing people to place wagers in the middle of a game or race.
How gambling is run behind the scenes has also changed. Pay per head services now allow anyone to set up a bookmaking business and compete on a global scale, offering the same service many large companies would. You can find more information about the best pay per head service at this link.
There are also other sectors set to grow in the future. Esports is one area that is attracting a huge following and many people want to place bets on the outcomes of gaming events. For some, it may seem odd to bet on a digital version of MMA or a football game, but it will soon be just as lucrative.
Enjoying Gambling Responsibly
Now that you know the history of sports betting, you can see how turbulent its past has been. In fluctuation between social acceptance and being driven underground, like anything it is not a problem when enjoyed in moderation. Set a budget, stick to it, and find a sport you enjoy gambling on.
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