Historians find it difficult to pinpoint exactly when sports betting started. Sports betting has been around for many years when ancient Greeks placed bets on Olympics sports. This spread to the Romans who acknowledged it and even made it legal. The Romans usually would bet on the Gladiators. From there the concept spread to other kingdoms at the time. The English in particular made it very popular in the form of betting on horse races. There appeared a huge betting market in England.
The bookies even started fixing the races. This was the dirty start of the betting market, though it was unofficial. These very Englishmen took the sports betting fever with them when they traveled to the US, thereby spreading it worldwide. The US betting locations started out along the same lines as that of the British but as technology prospered, innovative betting techniques in the form of Sports Trivia sites, and Fantasy Football were introduced. However, the Middle East and Islamic countries regarded this as religiously inappropriate and abstained from the practice of sports betting.
The Unites States boasts the biggest sports betting market. For many years, sports betting was illegal in the US apart from Nevada. In May 2018 the US Supreme Court declared sports betting legal throughout the United States. Before the ruling, Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 had restricted sports betting to Las Vegas, Nevada. The sports betting is now an industry worth billions!
All this brief history makes one wonder how exactly sports betting went conventional? We take a close look at the reasons below:
- Fantasy Football –
Legalizing and mainstreaming sports betting was a long overdue development. The advent of internet in the 1990s gave a head start to Fantasy Football across all leagues in the US. In the past five years before the court ruling legalizing sports betting, the NFL fantasy football sites in the US were racking up millions of unique daily visitors daily.
Fan Duel and Draft Kings are introduce in the fantasy arena of US sports. NFL, NBS, and Major League Baseball, all took out equities in the aforementioned fantasy competitions. In October of 2015 a Draft Kings worker won $350,000 while playing on the Fan Duel platform. He mistakenly published data which could arguably be perceived to be advantageous prior to the week’s games. This raised concerns among players that he had access to information which was by no means public. Allegations of insider trading are made about the Draft Kings employee, and certain cases were initiated against him in the court. This event alone was an eye opener to many sports leagues around the US, and definitely played its part in making sports betting mainstream.
- Media Hype –
Since the start of the fantasy team idea in the 1990s, there has been surprisingly increased media coverage of the fantasy sports down the years. The logic behind this vast media coverage is said to be the fact that fantasy players watched more games as compared to the average fans. Not only this, other sports betting sites started advertising their businesses through different means. Betting sites found a way around the legal restrictions to advertise their sports and other related betting services.
In 2008, ESPN, the famous sports channel started an exclusive betting column and podcast for the same. The name podcast is “Behind the Bets”. Not only this, the ESPN site began “Chalk”; a part dedicated to gambling and betting odds. Other sports channels followed in the steps of ESPN and set up their dedicated betting shows.
They even advertised their betting shows on different sports related platforms including the English Premier League, NFL, and Major League Soccer to name a few. Apart from this, stories related to gambling have been hyped in the recent past. These include the 5,000-1 odds of Leicester City securing the 2015/16 English Premier League title, Mayweather trying to bet on his fight alongside Connor McGregor, and the underdogs in the form of Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl. Overall, betting in sports had become a normal occurrence throughout the world and media had played its role in doing so.
- The Endgame –
In the bigger picture, all instances pointed towards making sports betting as mainstream as possible. This bear fruit when US legalized it in May of 2018. Sports betting is now a very lucrative business with over a billion dollar industry in the US alone. There is no question of how much we are betting but as far as the worldwide love for betting is concerned, it is not stopping anytime soon. Even more now it has been given approval through a legal stamp. However, just like one should drink responsibly, one should gamble responsibly as well. After all this is nothing but a big chunk of a business who thinks it is their money in your bank account!