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Friday 24th February 2023

From Horse Racing to Online Casinos: The Evolution of Sports Betting in the UK

Sports betting is extremely popular in the UK, with UK gambling sites being one of the most prominent aspects of the economy. Almost all sports in the UK are sponsored by sports betting companies, and this industry seems to be evolving by the day. Technological advancements have made sports betting very convenient, as people no longer have to wait in line to place their bets.

The industry wasn’t always like this, though. In the early years, people liked to place their bets on sports like horse racing. Today, you will find people betting on different sports online, with football being the most popular. This article will discuss the evolution of sports betting in the UK since its inception.

The Inception of Sports Betting in the UK

Sports Betting has been popular in the UK since the 1600s. Italy was the front-runner of casinos during this time, and people in the UK were interested in wagers. Although horse racing had been around since the 1500s in the UK, it wasn't until the late 18th and early 19th century that the concept of calculating the odds of horses winning races was introduced. In the 1800s, sports betting on horse racing was finally introduced, with people placing bets outside the tracks. This activity started getting common, but there was one problem. The lack of regulation meant that the wagers and the bookmakers could lie or cheat for their gain.

The First Legislation

It was not until 1845 that the first Gambling Act was passed, which stated that wagers did not count as legal contracts. This legislation aimed to demotivate people involved in gambling, but the impact of this was quite the opposite. Gamblers took the Act as a message that gambling was not illegal, and the number of low-key casinos and betting houses increased.

To reduce the number of betting houses, the government passed another legislation in 1853 called the Betting Act. This law made it illegal for citizens to own property solely for the purpose of gambling. This meant betting houses closed down, but people could still wager at horse racing tracks. Eventually, horse racing started to become increasingly popular in the early 1900s.

The Impact of Football on Sports Betting

As betting on horse racing tracks grew in popularity, football pools also started evolving in the 1920s. In 1926, Greyhound racing was introduced in the UK, which shifted the focus from football pools and horse racing. These three platforms were the only legal betting platforms in the UK during this time. 

The Betting and Gambling Act was passed in 1960 and legalised betting shops. This meant that any individuals who were operating betting shops undercover could now do so openly. The popularity of casinos increased, and greyhound racing and football pools became less popular. Having said this, football betting was still very common. The legislation made it compulsory for football matches to be televised for them to be bet on. 

The Introduction of Online Casinos

Intertops was the first ever online sports betting website that was established in 1996. This was a new concept for gamblers, so it took some time for gamblers to trust and understand how they functioned. Online casinos meant that people could place their bets from the comfort of their homes instead of visiting betting shops. As more and more people began to switch to online betting, it was clear that the UK needed to update its regulations if the government wanted to recover taxes. 

The 2005 Gambling Act was passed, and its foundations still hold today. The law that impacted most online casinos or providers was that they needed a license from the Gambling Commission to operate in the UK. The 2015 Gambling Act is the latest amendment to the 2005 Gambling Act, making it compulsory for online betting sites to pay taxes on all the bets they take. 

The Present and Future of the iGaming Industry 

Today, the online casino industry is one of the most prominent industries in the UK, and casino games and slots are available on portable devices like smartphones and tablets. You only need to download an app or open your browser to start betting. As technology advances daily, the latest developments like artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality are also becoming a significant part of the iGaming industry.

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