UK Sports Betting – History and FactsWhile not many people know this, UK sports betting has a rich and interesting history that dates back many, many years. In general terms, even in ancient mythology betting and gambling was not an uncommon practice, and as time has gone by, it has evolved considerably.
Today, the world of betting is incredibly diverse. With so many different ways to gamble, almost anyone can get into it and have a good time. But if you’re interested in the world of sports betting in the UK in particular, you might want to know a little more about its origins. Here is just a quick look at the information of how sports betting got to where it is today, as well as some facts that you probably didn’t know about the industry.
UK Sports Betting in Modern Times
2000s (to now) – Updating the regulations for the modern eraIn the 2000s, things were looking good for sports betting in the United Kingdom – although there were still a few changes that needed to be made. The popularity of online betting increased significantly and with it, new regulations were implemented to both help to make the online gambling experience better and consolidate the existing rules that were in place for gambling in person.
Whether it’s in person or online, there are now many sports to choose from and many ways to place bets (both exclusive to the UK and internationally). This makes it even simpler for you to get involved today. Betting online has never been easier, or more entertaining with all the best betting sites to join in 2021.
The History of Sports Betting
1600s – The foundation for sports bettingWhile sports betting wasn’t quite prominent during this point in time, it did lay the groundwork for it to become more popular in the following centuries. At this time, Italy was booming in the casino business and while it didn’t quite catch on in the United Kingdom (largely for religious reasons), there was still an interest in small wagers and card games. These wagers would pave the way for the sports betting of today.
1700s – The development of betting on horse racingWhile horse racing was popular well before this time, it only started to become common practice to place bets on these types of events during the 1700s – especially towards the end of the century. A few people began giving certain horses different odds of winning; an interesting format with a profit margin that not only that enticed more people to play and choose their bets carefully, but also began the development of bookmaking.
1800s – The beginning of regulation in UK sports bettingThere’s a lot to sift through from this era, so let’s begin with some of the issues that were present in sports betting. At this point, wagers were generally made at the race tracks themselves, since it posed less of a risk than placing a wager with bookmakers outside the tracks (although both options posed their own problems). The key issue was that sports betting wasn’t regulated, and therefore bookmakers and bettors had to take matters into their own hands if there were any unsavoury tactics going on.
Halfway through the century, in 1845, the Gambling Act was passed, which aimed to prevent people from gambling. To put it simply, it made the risks of gambling official by stating that wagers didn’t count as legal contracts. Unfortunately for the government, the Gambling Act didn’t quite work out as intended – instead of putting people off of betting, it only encouraged it.
As a result, many betting houses opened up. Not long after though, in 1853, they were shut down by the new Betting Act, making it illegal to own a property for the purposes of gambling. This restricted bookmakers and bettors to the tracks for horse race wagers, and while it did solve the problem of betting houses for a while, the popularity and demand for horse race bets skyrocketed.
1900s – Expansion and rapid growth in the industryThroughout the early 1900s, horse racing tracks only continued to grow in popularity, and from this came a crucial part of the UK’s sports betting history; football pools and greyhound racing. The reason why football pools were so great was because they were considered a game of skill and not gambling – allowing them to bypass the laws that were in place at the time. In fact, it was the only legal way to bet on football results, as well as the only legal alternative to horse race betting.
In 1926 saw the introduction of greyhound racing in the UK, which yet again brought a new legal alternative to horse race bets. Greyhound racing was popular for 3 decades in the United Kingdom, even remaining prevalent through the Great Depression and WWII. While there were still illegal bookmakers, it was far riskier to act outside of the law, so the majority of individuals favoured the legal sports betting platforms they had instead.
The good news is that things did improve in the 1960s, with changes being made to the Betting and Gambling Act to modify the course of betting history and lead it onto the path it’s on today. The Act legalised betting shops, removing the need for bookmakers to go about their business in secret and reducing the risks for everyone involved. With casinos beginning to crop up too, and betting establishments that are still standing today, it’s plain to see that this was what the people wanted.
Toward the end of this decade, the popularity of the Premier League had helped to normalise bookmakers and made the job (as well as the act of placing bets within a shop) far more socially acceptable. The introduction of online betting was a huge step forward for the industry too, even if it wasn’t quite smooth sailing in the beginning as many had hoped.