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How Sports Betting Has Changed Over The Years

Steve Shoup

The betting system and the luxuries related to it we get to have now, didn’t exist in the past. However, that doesn’t mean sports betting is something new. It has been there from the ancient times and gained popularity in the 12th century B.C.


Let’s have a look at the history and find out more about how sports betting actually started and how it has evolved over the years:


16th – 17th Century

Sports betting started in the mid of 16th century where friends and family used to wager upon certain sports. However, it was in the 17th century that sports betting rose drastically, especially in the Great Britain.

It was the time when pedestrianism was on the rise. Pedestrianism involved two people having a walking race where they walked as fast as they could and people standing by would bet upon each one of them. The winner would get a prize, giving rise to the concept of sport betting as people would bet to win.


17th – 18th Century

Pedestrianism lost its touch soon but that wasn’t the end of sports betting for people around the world because that’s when horse racing rose in popularity and attracted the attention of gamblers from around the world.

In the 1700’s horse racing gained immense popularity and things began to go out of hand. Therefore, the governments of many countries took measures to stop gamblers from attending horse races under the 1739 Gaming Act. However, it was too late by then.

Betting on horse racing was the new jam for the British and other countries as well. However, eventually in 1845, betting on horse racing was banned, but was still there illegally.


19th – 20th Century

Finally in 1960 the ban was lifted and people were allowed to accept bets on horse racing and from then the real sport betting play started. Just 6 months later, the UK was filled with more than 10,000 betting shops that dealt in horse racing betting, greyhound betting and football betting.

1994 was the year where the first online gambling site was developed and just after 3 years, there were more than 200 sites on the internet. Seeing such a rise in the betting system, the governments of various countries began to issue active licenses to operate betting systems, especially in the UK where 791 active licenses were issued. However, now betting sites are everywhere. In fact, some big betting sites like Toals Bookmakers have dozens of shops all around the world.


Gradually, many other sport betting systems were introduced and people started to bet on other sports as well including cricket, football, racing, boxing, and tennis. There was no limit, people could bet on any sport as the was on the outcome.

During 2014 and 2015, 17.5 million people registered for remote betting sport games and just a year later, the numbers rose to 25 million.


Sport betting industry generated billions of dollars around the world where in the UK alone, the profit was estimated to be 16 billion where 35% came from sports betting.


During 2015 and 2016, betting on football games was at the top when it came to making profit as the generated amount was $686 million, a large chunk of which came through online betting. After football, horse racing was the second best at betting as it generated $408 million.



Sports betting is rapidly changing, and rising thanks to changing technology. Now with smartphones, one can bet from anywhere which is one of the main reasons why sports betting has become so popular.



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