Chariot Racing, Vegas, and Online Betting: The Evolution of Sports Betting

by | 18 Jun 2022

Sports betting has come a long way over the years, evolving from its beginnings in ancient times to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, and now finding its place in the world of online platforms. This evolution reflects the changing attitudes and technological advancements that have revolutionized the way we engage with sports and gambling.

The Early Days of Sports Betting

Sports betting didn’t just happen as recently as you think. Sports betting rose to popularity in ancient times, more prominently with the Greeks and Romans. Bets were placed on different athletic contests of the time such as gladiator fights, Olympic games, and — the ancestor of modern-day horse racing — chariot races. Not long after, mounted (bareback) races also rose to popularity.

This established the foundation for the future growth of horse racing. Presumably, horse racing became more sophisticated in countries where horsemanship was highly developed like China, Persia, and other countries in the Middle East.

Known as “The Father of the English Turf”, Charles II inaugurated the King’s Plates in the 17th century. The King’s Plates is known to have the earliest documented national racing rules. The horses were six years old and 76 kilogrammes — racing to be the first to reach two 6.4-kilometre heats. 

On the other hand, in France, the first recorded horse race took place in 1651 as a bet between two noblemen. During King Louis XIV’s reign from 1643 to 1715, gambling-based horse racing was common. Later, during the reign of Louis XVI from 1774 to 1793, he formed a jockey club and established rules for racing through a royal decree. These rules included needing certificates to prove the horse’s origin and placing extra weight on foreign horses, becoming a turning point for the standardization of horse racing.

Related: 10 Grandest Horse Racing Events in the World

Las Vegas: The Gambling Capital of the World

A milestone in the evolution of sports betting came with the rise of Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the world. In the mid-20th century, Las Vegas became synonymous with high-stakes gambling and luxurious casinos.

In 1931, Nevada legalized gambling including betting on sports and for a long time the state’s casinos were the only places anyone could legally gamble. The allure of Vegas drew sports enthusiasts and casual bettors alike, cementing the city’s reputation as a gambling mecca.

Sportsbooks emerged in Vegas as a popular attraction, allowing visitors to bet on a wide range of sports events. Legendary bookmaker Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal opened a sportsbook at the Stardust Resort and Casino in 1976, which became the prototype of every sportsbook to come.

1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed, effectively banning sports betting in states that did not already allow it, making Nevada the only state where sports gambling was legal. Fortunately, PASPA opened its doors for individual states to legalize sports betting by the year 2018, allowing online platforms and retail sportsbooks to operate within their borders

Australia’s Energetic Sports Betting Culture

In Australia, while horse betting has long been legal, sports betting was only legalized in 1983. That year, Totalisator Agency Boards began taking bets on a number of sports like football and cricket. Non-government sportsbooks didn’t emerge until 1993, with Sportsbet becoming the first private-owned betting entity to obtain a license.

By 2001, the Interactive Gambling Act was introduced at the federal level to regulate online gambling, including sports betting. This legislation made it illegal for operators to offer online gambling services to Australian residents. However, it did not specifically address the legality of Australians placing bets with offshore operators.

Much like the US, in 2017, the federal government implemented the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act, which strengthened regulations on online gambling. The amendment tightened restrictions on offshore gambling operators and prohibited them from offering their services to Australian players unless they had obtained a license from the Australian authorities.

The Shift to Online Platforms

Perhaps the most significant shift in the evolution of sports betting has been the rise of online platforms. With the advent of the internet and smartphones, betting on sports has become more accessible and convenient than ever before. Online sportsbooks offer a wide range of sports markets, live betting options, and competitive odds, allowing bettors to engage in real-time from the comfort of their own homes.

The convenience of online platforms has led to a surge in popularity, attracting a broader audience of bettors. From casual sports fans to serious gamblers, the accessibility of online betting platforms has democratized the activity and eliminated geographical barriers.

Moreover, technological advancements have enhanced the overall experience of sports betting. Features such as live streaming, in-depth statistics, and interactive interfaces provide bettors with a more immersive and engaging experience. Additionally, the integration of secure payment methods and rigorous regulations ensures that online platforms provide a safe and transparent environment for betting.

Related: How Edge Alerter Became the Revolutionary Sports Betting Tipping System It Is Today

The Future of Sports Betting

It has been a fascinating journey for sports betting. With the rise of online technology and the increasing popularity of sports worldwide, sports betting has become more accessible and diverse than ever before — and we don’t think it’s stopping at any time.

Looking ahead to the future, the sports betting industry is poised for even greater growth with the emergence of new technologies and regulatory changes. As the global market continues to expand, sports betting companies can expect a promising future, paving the way for an exciting new age of sports betting.

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