History of Sports Betting 3

History of Sports Betting

History of Sports Betting

People have been arguing with each other since they lived in caves. There was no money in those days, and the bet was on material things – weapons, household utensils, cattle, and later, in the slave trade, and slaves. The first sporting events began in antiquity. The first Olympic Games in Ancient Greece took place in 776 BC. People then most often bet on the outcome of gladiatorial battles, races, and chariot races. Archaeologists have found fragments of manuscripts that indicate that around the fifth century BC and the first prototype of the tote appeared. There was also a set of rules for taking bets.

In ancient Rome, gladiator fights were common, and spectators in the arenas argued for the victory of their favourite. In the harsh Roman law there was a law called Lex aleatoria (from alea – dice), considered the first law on betting. Even then, in the third century BC, gambling was banned, but sports betting was allowed.

Later European monarchs issued decrees attesting to the development of gambling and gambling. King Louis I of France issued an edict in 1254 forbidding gambling on the territory of the country on pain of whipping. In 1710, Queen Anne of England declared debts at «a matter of honour» without legal consequences.

History of sports betting

First bookies

The evolution of betting and gambling was on its way, and its natural stage was the emergence of bookmaking. Richard Tattersaul first began taking bets in 1766 and William Ogden in 1790. The odds were set between the bet and the win of each horse: thus the first odds appeared. For a long time, betting was developed on the racetracks: racing was then the most popular entertainment on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Similar organizations soon appeared in France, the United States and other countries.

The activities of bookmakers in those years were not regulated by law. As a result, their clients had to rely on the honesty and decency of the bidders. In 1850, Leviathan Davis and Fred Swindell opened the first betting shop in London. Its founders made sports forecasts and distributed leaflets with chances of winning.

Joseph Oller is considered to be the owner of the first betting pool. In 1865, he opened a central cashier in Paris to accept mortgages from players. This enterprise was a great success and led to the opening of a number of other similar funds. At the end of the 19th century, laws governing betting were passed in France, Great Britain, and other countries.

From Racecourses to Online Betting

In 1923, Littlewoods was established in Liverpool, California, and began taking bets by mail. Treble Chance was the best-known game where players could make 10, 11, or 12 forecasts for football matches over the coming weekend. Littlewoods was one of the world’s largest private companies until online betting gained momentum.

William Hill was founded in London in 1934 as the world’s most popular betting company. Until the mid-20th century, bookmaking remained semi-legal, and the bettors were deprived of legal protection.

The key year for betting was 1961, when betting was officially legalized in the UK on May 1. By the end of that year alone, over ten thousand betting houses had opened in this country. Betting has rapidly gained popularity worldwide. Bookmakers began to take bets on almost all sports, as well as on unsporting events.

Online betting

The first online bet was made in 1996. It was hosted by Intertops, a licensed online betting company of the small island Caribbean state of Antigua and Barbuda. In 1994, as an offshore zone, that country was granted the right to issue such licenses from the WTO. In the future, other betting companies preferred to be based offshore due to tax breaks. By 2001, the online sports betting market had surpassed two billion dollars, and the number of players had reached eight million. In 2002, betors were able to make their first live bets.

Intertops has also pioneered the development of mobile betting applications. In 2000, the first such software was launched, allowing online betting from mobile devices.

Sports betting market size

Zion Market Research, a consulting company, has conducted a study that suggests that the world’s online sports betting market may exceed $150 billion in 2024. It has also been found that sports betting now covers more than 70% of the global gambling industry. The biggest turnover of money is observed in football betting, second place on this list is baseball.

Earnings from the gambling market in Europe


According to the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) in 2019, the overall European gambling market was estimated at 98.6 billion euros – the share of online gambling is 24.5 billion euros and land-based gambling is 74.1 billion euros gross gaming income.

In 2020, due to the influence of COVID, total revenue from games decreased by 23% to 75.9 billion euros, but the share of online gambling is expected to increase significantly by 7% to 26.3 billion euros of gross gaming income.

Overall gambling revenue in Europe is projected to increase by €111 billion in 2025, with online gambling accounting for over 33%.


The regulated online gambling market is growing in Europe

According to research, the share of regulated/legal gambling in Europe is also increasing.

In 2019, Europe had an online entry rate of 73.5%, which means that almost three quarters of online gaming activity took place in the regulated market, while 26.5% of activity was in the gray and black markets. Online gambling market share is expected to increase to 80.1% by 2023.

Sports betting – the most popular type of online gambling in Europe

Sports betting remains the most popular online gambling, with 41% of European online revenue and 10 billion euros of gross revenue from games in 2019.

Sports Betting 41%

Casino 34%

Lottery 15%

Poker 5%

Bingo 4%

Other / Skill Gaming 1%


European online gambling becomes mobile

In 2019, 55.9% of online bets in Europe were made from desktops, and only 44.1% of online bets were made from mobile devices. By 2025, a greater shift to mobile rates is expected and is projected to reach 58.2% of all online betting.


Table References: European Online Gambling Key Figures 2020 Edition


Biggest sports betting

5) Charles Barkley. Bet on the 2002 Super Bowl – £647,000 on the victory of «New England Petriots» – Bet played

4) Anonymous. Bet on the 2018 Super Bowl – £1.2 million on winning «Philadelphia Eagles» – Bet played

3) Dave «Vegas» Oncha. Bet on baseball, 2015 – £2 million to win «Kansas City Royals» – Bet played

2) Billy Walters. Bet on the 2010 Super Bowl – £2.8 million on the win of «New Orleans Saints» – Bet played

1) Floyd Mayweather. Bet on the 2014 Super Bowl – £8 million on winning «Denver Broncos» – Bet not played

Future of the betting world

Experts say that after switching to online mode, the work of many bookmakers has become more transparent. However, players often complain that bookies refuse to pay winnings. Bookies in turn report software failures or suspicious activity in the profile. It is therefore necessary to build more transparent models.

Betting may switch to blockchain technology in the near future. Such technology will make the activity more transparent, as all transactions can be quickly tracked down in the future. Many journals write that in the near future will be actively developing the following areas:

  • eSports
  • blockchain;
  • virtual reality.

Due to blockchain technology, all bets will be placed in a special register. Accordingly, it will be impossible to change the results. According to experts, blockchain completely eliminates the human factor and the interference of third parties in the processing of bets made. Bookmakers who will use blockchain technology will be able to provide their customers with new opportunities that did not exist before.

E-sports began to grow rapidly. Experts are confident that this is a popular discipline, which in the near future can become Olympic. The cybersports market now stands at around $900 million, with millions of users watching streams worldwide.

The popularity of tournaments is constantly increasing, which affects the increase in bets on such events. Some companies try to add a touch of sensation to provide virtual reality. The unique technology of Get InThe Race created the effect of presence on horse racing, which caused a real stir among many users.


On the territory of most countries of Europe, the activity of betting offices is legal, so companies can obtain the necessary license. However, most owners or beginners of online betting offices prefer a license that is issued by offshore zones or countries with loyal regulation of gambling activities. Gambling attorneys from Regulated United Europe would recommend that start-ups consider receiving gambling license in Curacao or gambling license in Costa Rica. This is primarily due to the low cost of permit documents as well as the term of obtaining the necessary license.

Also, lawyers from Regulated United Europe provide legal services for obtaining a Czech Republic crypto license.

How the sports betting industry has evolved

With the development of civilisation, sports betting has come a long way from primitive gambling entertainment to a high-tech and multi-billion dollar segment of the world economy. This article is an analytical review of the history of sports betting, its evolution and impact on the modern business, outlining the key moments of development and foreshadowing future trends of the industry.

The forefathers of sports betting

The origins of sports betting go back centuries, when the first gambling competitions and sporting events began to attract the attention of spectators not only as a spectacle, but also as an opportunity for gambling. The Olympic Games in Ancient Greece, gladiatorial fights in the Roman Empire – all these became a springboard for the development of betting as a social phenomenon.

The Industrial Revolution and sports betting

With the advent of the industrial age and the development of communication technology, betting on sports began to become organised. In 19th century Britain, betting on horse racing became not only a popular pastime but also an important part of the national economy, giving rise to the modern gambling industry.

Technological evolution and globalisation

The end of the 20th century saw the advent of the internet, which radically changed the landscape of gambling. Online betting platforms made the process accessible to a wide audience around the world, enabling unprecedented growth in the industry. Globalisation and digitalisation have allowed companies to expand the market, offering betting on all sports anywhere in the world.

Regulation and innovation

As the betting industry has evolved, regulation has become necessary to ensure fairness, transparency and protection of participants. Many countries have introduced legislative frameworks to control this area of activity. At the same time, technological innovations, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, have begun to be introduced into the industry, increasing security, analytics and predictive capabilities.

The future of sports betting

The outlook for the sports betting industry looks promising, given the growing interest in sports competitions and gambling. The integration of modern technologies such as virtual and augmented reality is expected to open new horizons for user engagement and market expansion.


The history of sports betting is a tale of continuous evolution, reflecting changes in societal norms, technology, and economics. From simple gambling to a multi-billion dollar industry, sports betting continues to be a significant part of global business, offering both significant growth opportunities and challenges to regulation and innovation. The industry will continue to evolve in the future, adapting to new technological and social trends, remaining an important and dynamic sector of the global economy.


Biggest betting sites 2024

In 2024, the sports betting industry continues to show impressive growth, attracting millions of enthusiasts around the world. Among the variety of betting companies, certain companies stand out due to their scale, innovation and market impact. In this article, we take a look at the biggest betting companies of 2024, their key features and strategies for success.

Bet365 Bet365: Synonymous with online betting

Bet365 holds the title of one of the largest and most recognisable bookmakers in the world. Since its inception in 2000, the company has seen steady growth, offering a wide range of bets on sporting events including football, tennis, horse racing and more. Its innovative approach to real-time betting and high quality customer service has made Bet365 the preferred choice for millions of punters.

William Hill William Hill: Tradition and Innovation

Founded in 1934, William Hill is one of the oldest bookmakers in the world. The company has been able to adapt to a changing market by successfully integrating its traditional operations with an online platform. A strong position in the UK and strategic expansion into the US market confirm William Hill’s status as one of the industry leaders.

DraftKings DraftKings: An innovator in the world of fantasy sports

DraftKings started as a fantasy sports provider in 2012 and quickly became one of the leading players in the US betting market. The introduction of innovative technology and a focus on mobile apps has allowed DraftKings to expand its offering to traditional sports betting, gaining the trust of audiences in the US and beyond.

Betfair Betfair: The Betting Exchange Revolution

Betfair changed the betting industry by introducing the concept of a betting exchange where users can act as both bettor and bookmaker. This approach has given Betfair a unique advantage in the market and fuelled its growth. Strong positions in Europe and Australia confirm the company’s status as one of the market’s innovators.

Pinnacle Pinnacle: Leader with the best odds

Pinnacle is known for its competitive odds and low margins, making it a popular choice among professional punters. The company focuses on creating an optimal betting environment by offering high limits and minimal restrictions, which sets Pinnacle apart from other bookmakers.


The sports betting industry continues to evolve, attracting ever new technologies and expanding geographically. The leading bookmakers of 2023 demonstrate how innovation, quality of service and strategic vision contribute to their success and market influence. These companies not only provide a great sports betting experience, but also set the tone for the entire industry, determining its future direction.


The exact date of the first official sports betting is difficult to determine, as betting on the outcomes of various events has existed since ancient times. However, it can be noted that organised sports betting began to become formalised with the development of racecourses and horse racing in the UK in the 18th century.

One of the first documented instances of legislative regulation of gambling, including sports betting, is the Gaming Act, passed in the UK in 1845. This act was aimed at regulating and restricting gambling, indicating that by that time sports betting was already widespread and had an official status.

Organised horse racing betting in the UK and elsewhere in Europe provides a good example of the early development of the sports betting industry.

The opportunity to bet on sports online emerged in the mid-1990s. The first site to offer online sports betting was Intertops, launched in 1996. This was a revolutionary event for the gambling industry as it ushered in the era of online betting and started the rapid development of online gambling. Since then, the online sports betting industry has continued its rapid development, attracting millions of users worldwide.

One of the oldest betting companies in Europe is William Hill. Founded in 1934 in the UK, William Hill has long been one of the leading and most recognisable brands in the gambling and sports betting industry. Since its inception, the company has offered betting on a variety of sporting events including horse racing, football and many other sports. Over time, William Hill has expanded its operations to include casino, poker and other gambling games, and has also successfully adapted to the digital age by launching an online betting platform.

Malta is one of the countries in Europe where the largest number of betting companies are registered. This is due to the favourable tax laws and liberal regulatory environment that Malta provides for the gambling business. Maltese licences are in high demand among online casinos and bookmakers, as they allow companies to operate legally in many countries around the world.

A reputable regulator, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), licences and monitors gambling activities on the island, ensuring a high level of player protection and fair gaming rules. This makes Malta an attractive jurisdictional centre for international gambling operators, including betting companies.

Sports betting covers a wide range of sports, among which some are particularly popular with bettors around the world. The most popular sports for betting include:

  1. Football: The undisputed world leader among betting sports. Numerous leagues, tournaments including the World Cup, UEFA Champions League and national championships attract the attention of millions of bettors.
  2. Basketball: Betting on the NBA, Euroleague and national championships is popular among basketball fans. The game is characterised by high performance and dynamics, which makes it attractive for betting.
  3. Tennis: Grand Slam tournaments (Australian, French, British and US Open) as well as regular ATP and WTA tournaments attract the attention of bettors due to the possibility of betting on the outcome of matches, sets and games.
  4. Horse Racing: One of the oldest sports for betting. Horse racing is popular in many countries including the UK, Australia and the USA and offers a wide range of bets on the outcome of races.
  5. American Football: The NFL, especially the Super Bowl, is one of the highlight events in the US sports betting calendar, attracting the attention of not only American but also international bettors.
  6. Cricket: Particularly popular in Commonwealth countries such as the UK, India, Australia and Pakistan. International tournaments such as the Cricket World Cup are favoured by bettors.
  7. Ice Hockey: The NHL in North America and international tournaments such as the World Cup are popular betting events among hockey fans.

These sports attract a large number of bets due to their popularity, media coverage and the availability of extensive statistics that allow bettors to make informed predictions.

At the time of my last update, specific data on the total volume of sports betting accepted at online and offline betting shops in 2023 was not available. The volume of sports betting can vary significantly from year to year and depends on many factors, including major sporting events, economic conditions and changes in legislation in individual countries.

Nevertheless, it can be stated that the sports betting industry is showing steady growth, especially in the online betting segment, due to the increasing availability of the internet and the popularisation of mobile betting. The development of technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, as well as the improvement of user experience on betting platforms are further attracting new users.

The possibility of real-time sports betting, or live betting, began to develop in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the advent and spread of the internet. However, the specific year when live betting was first offered is difficult to determine due to the lack of accurate data on the first platforms that started offering this service.

Technological advances and the development of online bookmakers in the early 2000s have greatly expanded live betting opportunities, making them available to a wider audience. With the development of streaming technologies and improved internet connections, live betting has become one of the most popular and dynamic areas of the gambling industry.

Today, live betting is offered by most major bookmakers and allows players to bet on various aspects of sporting events while they are taking place, adding excitement and dynamism to the sports betting process.

There are many popular sports betting sites in the European Union that attract users with their services, wide range of bets, favourable odds and reliability. Here are some of the most well-known and widely used platforms:

  1. Bet365: One of the world's leading bookmakers, offering an extensive range of bets on a variety of sports at competitive odds.
  2. William Hill: With a long history in the betting industry, William Hill offers a wide range of sporting events to bet on including football, tennis, basketball and many more.
  3. Betfair: Known for its betting exchange where users can act as both bettors and bettors, Betfair also offers traditional betting services.
  4. Unibet: A strong player in the European market, Unibet attracts users with a wide range of betting markets, high quality service and a user-friendly interface.
  5. Bwin: Another popular platform, especially known for its football betting as well as a wide range of other sporting events.
  6. 1xBet: A platform that has quickly gained popularity thanks to its high odds, large selection of live bets and a wide range of events.
  7. Pinnacle: Known for its high limits and low margins, Pinnacle attracts professional players and those looking for the best odds.

These sites are just the tip of the iceberg in the diverse world of online betting. The choice of platform depends on the user's preferences in terms of sports, bet types, bonus programmes and user experience.

Online casinos are very popular in the European Union, offering a wide range of games including slots, table games, live dealers and more. Here are some of the most popular online casino sites in the EU:

  1. Bet365 Casino: Well known for its sports betting, Bet365 also offers an extensive casino section with a large selection of games.
  2. 888 Casino: One of the oldest and most respected online casino operators, 888 Casino offers a wide range of games and generous bonuses.
  3. LeoVegas: Known for its strong focus on mobile gaming, LeoVegas offers a great user experience on both mobile devices and desktop.
  4. Casumo: With its unique approach to gameplay and "adventure" as part of the gaming experience, Casumo stands out among other online casinos.
  5. Mr Green: An elegant and responsible online casino that offers a wide range of games and emphasises gaming responsibility.
  6. Betfair Casino: In addition to its betting exchange, Betfair offers a full casino with a large selection of slots and table games.
  7. Unibet Casino: Part of one of the leading gaming platforms, Unibet Casino offers an extensive catalogue of games along with sports betting.

These sites are just examples and represent only a small fraction of the available online casinos in the European Union. The choice of casino depends on players' preferences in terms of games, bonuses, deposit and withdrawal methods, and user experience. It is important to remember to play responsibly and make sure that the chosen online casino is legitimate and reliable by checking its licence and reviews from other players.

In the European Union, many sites offer the opportunity to play online poker, attracting players with a variety of games, tournaments and bonuses. Here are some of the most popular online poker platforms:

  1. PokerStars: PokerStars is the largest online poker site in the world, offering a wide range of games including big prize tournaments and various variations of poker.
  2. 888Poker: Known for its friendly interface and attractive bonuses for new players, as well as a wide range of poker games and tournaments.
  3. Partypoker: One of the oldest and most respected poker sites, offering an excellent selection of tournaments and cash games.
  4. Unibet Poker: Attracts players with its unique design, no third-party software to collect statistics, which creates a more level playing field for all players.
  5. Betfair Poker: Part of the larger Betfair gaming platform, it offers a variety of poker games and tournaments, as well as integration with other forms of gambling.
  6. PokerStars.eu: Specifically for players from the European Union, this site offers the same features as the global version of PokerStars, but subject to specific EU requirements and regulations.
  7. Bwin Poker: Part of a large gaming network, it offers a wide range of poker games and tournaments as well as attractive bonuses and promotions.

These platforms offer different types of poker including Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Seven-Card Stud and other variations. The choice of poker room depends on a player's personal preferences, including the level of opponents, available bonuses, types of games and quality of customer support.

European Union legislation on online gambling varies considerably from country to country. In most EU countries, online gambling is either fully legalised and regulated by national authorities or there are certain restrictions on certain types of gambling. However, at the time of the last update, there were no EU countries where online gambling was completely banned in all its forms.

It is important to note that even in countries with legalised online gambling, there may be strict regulations and restrictions, for example regarding operator licensing, gambling advertising, and player protection measures.

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