Sports Betting History


The history of sports betting in the West dates back to the ancient times. Thousands of years ago, Romans could wager on the outcome of circus events and chariot races. In fact, this form of gambling was one of the favorite pass-times of some Roman rulers, including emperor Augustus. However, modern sports betting is a fairly recent invention and takes its roots in 19th century England and the popular event of pedestrianism.

The practice of betting on pedestrianism spread to the United States and while the sport declined, other disciplines like baseball and later basketball or football were rather quick to replace it. The popularity of sports betting grew throughout the 1920s as numerous modern disciplines have been introduced. One of the major factors that contributed to the massive rise of popularity of this form of gambling was the introduction of point spread bets, which allowed sports betting enthusiasts to wager on their favorite team without ever having to deal with prohibitive odds. It is worth pointing out that some of the biggest sports betting companies have been established back in those days. Online sports betting giants that can trace their roots back to the late 19th and early 20th century include William Hill and Ladbrokes.

Online Sports Betting

The first online sports betting sites launched in the mid-1990s and were fairly successful, but it is worth pointing out that the bonuses and services they offered can’t really compare with what we have today. The recent advancements in technology allowed online sports betting operators to start offering live in-play betting and live video streams of the most important sporting events. Furthermore, the range of available markets has been greatly expanded throughout the last 20 years.

Another major development in the world of online sports betting was the introduction of the first modern mobile sports betting apps, which have been designed with first generation smartphones in mind. Many experts expect mobile apps to dominate the market in the years to come, but for now most operators still tend to focus on desktop-optimized software.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that even though the days of exploitable bonuses and promotions are long gone, most of the major sportsbooks still offer plenty of sweet deals to attract new customers. Consequently, online sports betting remains one of the best sources of income for professional punters and die-hard gamblers, as having the right skills and going for the best promotions allows them to minimize the risks and turn their hobby into a steady source of income.

Betting Online in the United States

Most of the major online sports betting sites used to be available to American customers up until 2006, when the US government cracked down on most forms of online gambling. After the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed, sports betting operators had to leave the US market. Even worse, the most recent interpretation of the Federal Wire Act of 1961 makes it illegal for financial institutions to process any payments related to online sports betting in the United States. Fortunately, none of the federal laws prohibit players from placing wagers over the internet.

This loophole allowed offshore sports betting operators like Bovada or BetOnline to offer their services to US-based sports betting enthusiasts, as they are based outside the country and don’t really have to follow US laws and regulations. Nevertheless, this rather complicated legal situation made it really difficult for American bettors to fund their online sports betting accounts – realistically speaking, the only options post-2006 are to make a credit card payment or to deposit via Western Union or MoneyGram. On a brighter note, withdrawing from an offshore site isn’t all that difficult – most reputable companies allow their customers to choose between a cash out via a traditional bank wire transfer or via a check by courier.