Sports and betting have always had a symbiotic connection since the dawn of time. Although no one knows when sports betting began, spectators have been wagering on the outcomes of athletic events for thousands of years.
Whether you are betting on an online casino or via a sportsbook there is a lot that has changed over the last few years. Below, we will go into the evolution of sports and betting.
Where It All Began
Sports and gambling historians have been unable to pinpoint exactly when sports betting originated, but they do know that it has existed for thousands of years. Some speculate that gambling began when inhabitants of ancient Rome wagered on gladiator fights and chariot races.
It was common practice since spectators were expected to put bets on the activities that were going place. Observers at the Olympics may have wagered on races and activities such as wrestling and boxing, according to historical relics from the ancient Greek civilization, which ultimately evolved to sports betting as we know it today.
How Did Odds Come About?
In the 1790s, Harry Ogden, a bookmaker in Lancashire, England, is credited with becoming the first bookie and the first to utilize odds to bet on horse races. This provided bettors additional options since instead of always choosing the winner, they could bet on an underdog and gain more money. He had to find out how to balance it all out so that he could pay out winning bets while still making a profit.
Prior to this invention, bets were placed between two persons under the terms of a “gentleman’s agreement,” which required both sides to believe that the other would pay up if they lost. In addition, there were no regulations in existence that regulated betting. In the mid-nineteenth century, as horse racing got more prominent, betting on the outcomes became more common than ever.
Sports Betting is Legal in the United States
Horse racing was the most popular sport in the early nineteenth century in the United States, just as it was in England, and betting was common. Traditional sports betting, as we know it, grew even more popular with the introduction of professional baseball in 1876.
A few years later, it was uncovered that players on the Louisville Grays baseball team were rigging games. Sports betting was not subject to any legislation since it was seen as only another form of entertainment.
Team managers, such as the Chicago Cubs’ Cap Anson, would even bet on their own teams. He bet $100 that his club would finish higher than the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1894, and the terms of his wager were even published in the Washington Post for everyone to read.
After the 1919 Blacksox affair, in which eight players took bribes to throw the World Series, opinions about sports betting started to shift, and the fallout continues to this day.
Organized Crime and Its Influence
Gambling remained outlawed in the nation until the 1930s, despite the popularity of sports betting. Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, but there were no sports betting rules in place at the time, and it was still quite popular.
That’s when organized crime stepped up and began to provide things like numbers games and sports betting all around the nation. After the federal government approved the Interstate Wire Act in 1961, sports betting became illegal. Even while it was still going on, it wasn’t as massive as it had been when mobsters provided sports betting throughout the country.
Betting on Sports in the Modern Era
Attitudes shifted once sports betting became permitted on a federal level in 2018. Major sports leagues, teams, and publications were wary about even discussing sports betting only a few years ago. These same groups, on the other hand, are now collecting millions of dollars in sponsorships from large bookmakers.
As a consequence, you’ll see odds on forthcoming games plastered all over your TV screens, as well as sportscasters picking winners. There is no going back at this point. Sports betting is at its peak in popularity, producing approximately $1.5 billion in annual income in the United States. By 2028, it is estimated to be worth more than $180 billion globally.