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History of sports betting

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How was sports betting invented?

Nowadays, it is hard to imagine the existence of sporting events without sports betting; this is because sports betting has a long and colorful history which runs parallel with the development of sport around the world.

The roots of sports betting in general can be traced back to the sport of kingshorse racing. It was at the horse racing tracks that the first steps towards what we now know as organized sports betting were made. Throughout the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century, members of the upper class enjoyed small wagers and bets on the outcomes of certain races within the regular gatherings and race meetings.

It was after the Civil War that horse racing tracks started appearing in larger numbers across the landscape; this, in turn, attracted a great many betters and would-be entrepreneurs from all over the country.


The idea of the bookmaker started at these race meetings, where bookmakers would organise auction pools. These auction pools saw bets auctioned off for each horse within the race.

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During this time, particularly business-savvy individuals were starting to realise that setting the odds on individual horses could serve to improve the betting handles meaning better business for the bookies.

Online betting

The origins of online betting

This spawned a technique that is still used within bookmaking to this very day: If there was an overwhelming amount of money being wagered on one particular horse (giving an overpowering indication that it was the favourite to win), then the bookmaker would simply lower the odds on that particular horse, thereby increasing the attractiveness of betting on other horses within the race, this process became known as shortening the odds, with the opposite being known as lengthening the odds.

Although sports betting has moved into every conceivable betting market even Online Betting, its origins can still be traced back to the racetracks.