Betting online has become second nature to us so it’s perhaps a little surprising that things were slow to take off after the Internet came into being. Some of the more traditional bookmakers were sceptical about the power of the net and this allowed smaller operators to establish and thrive.
Organised gambling can be traced back over hundreds of years before it became legalised in the UK and then in wider territories. In the 20th century, some familiar brands were set up such as William Hill in 1934 and Coral in 1926 and when physical betting shops were granted a licence in the second half of the 1900’s, the practise began to flourish.
Certain bookies had a monopoly in certain towns via a chain of shops but that was all about to change.
With the birth of the internet came an act, passed in 1994, by the Antigua and Barbuda commission which effectively offered licenses to anyone setting up an online casino. Of course, at that stage, few players had even heard of the World Wide Web, let alone had access to it so while this is a notable landmark, it had very little effect on the betting industry.
Initially, the focus was on casinos and the act saw familiar software providers such as Microgaming develop programs for operators to use and establish their business online. Sports betting was close behind however and it is generally accepted that the first bookmaker to go online was Intertops in 1996.
Established bookies were slow to see the relevance but we soon saw other outlets following Intertops’ lead. Betfair came online in 2000, the same year that Bet365 was set up. Suddenly, bookies who had no physical presence on the high street were able to set up their operations online and challenge for part of the new deal.
As other bookmakers came online, we started to see a number of changes in the way we placed a bet. Finally, the likes of William Hill and BetFred saw the potential of the internet and after setting up alongside some of the new boys, a number of new innovations started to arrive.
Following on from Betfair’s launch as the first exchange in 2000, we saw betting in play arrive two years later. From 2002 onwards, you no longer had to stake pre-match and instead, you could analyse how an event was developing and stake accordingly if you preferred.
Bet365 place a big advertising campaign behind live betting but most, if not all bookmakers, will offer some markets here. Stan James and Betway are among the bookies who are most active in this sector of the business.
The Present Day
As we reached 2017, the online betting industry was as busy as ever with new operators getting on board all the time. New players such as EnergyBet come along and compete with the established names and the vast majority stick around to gain some form of market share.
For some firms, the rise is quite meteoric, as was the case with Betway who only came online in 2007 but have claimed a huge market share in just under ten years.
So the choice of bookmakers is evident but what can we bet on?
Football and Horse Racing remain the most popular sports within the community, certainly in the UK where the horses are still a big part of life. Football extends right across the world and tennis is also a major focus for most bookmakers.
Golf is a very unpredictable sport but the chance of landing a high priced winner makes this very attractive too while rugby union, rugby league and cricket are additional sports that have traditionally been popular.
Added to this are relatively new arrivals such as American Football. Although this had been played for decades, it was largely unnoticed by the wider sporting world until the 1980’s when TV started to take an interest. This is a fascinating sport with lots of betting options so it was quickly embraced by online bettors.
Further US sports such as Baseball, Ice Hockey and Basketball attract interest too although this is slightly more modest.
Meanwhile, events in the world of darts and snooker have also been given focus by the bookies. Generally speaking, if something is picked up by the satellite TV companies then it will gain in popularity with spectators and bettors alike.
With so many bookmakers battling for your stake money there is lots of value to be had in the present day. Most will offer some form of welcome bonus as an incentive to sign up and many of these can be very generous indeed.
100% matches on your deposit are not uncommon and in the best cases, they can reach up to £100. Others may be lower and could possibly involve some free bets up to £20 or £30.
From there, you could expect to see ongoing promotions in a selection of markets to give you some extra value. Straight line accumulator bets are perfectly aligned to these and so you can find boosts on profits and some insurance offers where bets could be refunded if one of your picks fails to land.
Value can also come with odds as bookmakers look to offer the best prices around. It all adds up to a very competitive market where all of the sportsbooks are battling really hard to get your business and then to keep you onside as a satisfied customer.
For these reasons and more, there has never been a better time to bet online with so much choice around and so many betsites trying to outdo each other in return for your business. There are more sporting markets than ever before too and it’s just so convenient to bet at home on your pc or on the go via a mobile device. Things have come a very long way in the 20 years since a sportsbook first took the plunge and started trading online.