The Evolution of Online Sports Wagering

Explore the fascinating evolution of online sports wagering, from its ancient origins to today's cutting-edge platforms. Discover the history of sports betting, the rise of online sportsbooks in the 1990s, the impact of mobile technology, and the latest innovations like in-play betting and betting exchanges.

Alyx Tzamantanis.
A. Tzamantanis

Last Updated: 2024-06-27

James Pacheco

7 minutes read

Runners racing

These days, we all enjoy the benefits of using the top online sports betting platforms. From in-play betting and live streams to placing wagers from your mobile device on matches all over the world, betting on sports has never been so easy.

But who remembers when you had to walk to your local bookmaker to place a bet? Or when you had to fill in a physical bet slip if you wanted to wager on an upcoming match?

Today, we’re going to look back at the evolution of online sports wagering to see how we got to this incredible era of ease and excitement. Get ready to take a trip down memory lane. 

The Origin of Sports Betting 

Sports betting has a rich and diverse history that stretches back to ancient civilisations. The earliest records of sports betting can be traced to the Greeks, who placed wagers on athletic events during the Olympic Games as early as 776 BC.

The practice spread to ancient Rome, where it became immensely popular, particularly with gladiator contests and chariot races. The Romans even went as far as to legalise sports betting, recognising its widespread appeal.

As time progressed, sports betting continued to evolve. During the Middle Ages, it gained popularity in England, where betting on horse racing became a national pastime. This period also saw the establishment of the first bookmakers, who began to formalise the betting process by setting odds and taking bets.

By the 18th century, sports betting had become ingrained in British culture, eventually spreading to other parts of Europe and the world.

In the United States, sports betting emerged in the 19th century, initially focusing on horse racing and later expanding to other sports. The introduction of professional baseball in the late 1800s provided a new avenue for sports wagering.

Despite various legal challenges and periods of prohibition, sports betting has persisted, continually adapting to the changing social and legal landscapes.

The Invention of Online Sports Betting 

The advent of the internet in the late 20th century revolutionised many industries, and sports betting was no exception. 

1990s: The birth of online sports betting

●    1994: The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade & Processing Act, allowing licenses to be granted to companies wishing to offer online gambling services. This legislative move set the stage for the creation of the first online sportsbooks

●    1996: Intertops, an Austrian-based company, launched the first online sports betting platform, allowing users to place bets on a variety of sports events via the internet

2000s: Expansion and technological advancements

●    Early 2000s: The popularity of online sports betting surged, driven by advancements in internet technology and increased accessibility. This period saw the emergence of several prominent online sportsbooks

●    2006: The United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which targeted financial transactions related to online gambling. While this created challenges for online sports betting operators in the US, it did not entirely halt the growth of the industry globally

2010s: Mobile betting and legalisation movements

●    Early 2010s: The rise of smartphones and mobile technology gave birth to mobile sports betting apps, allowing users to place bets from anywhere at any time. This increased the convenience and popularity of online sports betting

●    2018: A landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), effectively allowing states to legalise and regulate sports betting. This decision spurred a wave of legalisation across the United States, significantly expanding the market for online sports betting

2020s: The Era of Integration and Innovation

●    Present day: Online sports betting continues to grow, driven by innovations such as live betting, where users can place wagers during the course of a game, and the integration of sports betting with popular media and entertainment platforms.

The industry has also seen the rise of eSports betting, reflecting the growing popularity of competitive video gaming

Modern Sports Betting Platforms 

Modern sports betting platforms have revolutionised the way we wager on sports by offering the many perks we now enjoy daily, including in-play betting, mobile betting, live streaming, and betting exchanges.

In-play betting allows real-time wagers during events, enhancing engagement and strategic opportunities, while mobile betting provides the convenience of placing bets anytime and anywhere via user-friendly apps.

Live streaming integrates betting and viewing, offering up-to-date information and an immersive experience, and betting exchanges enable bettors to wager against each other, often resulting in better odds and increased flexibility.

These innovations have made sports betting more accessible, enjoyable, and dynamic than ever before.

For more information about sports betting, make sure to always visit us here at SportsBoom. We keep you up to date with our news, reviews and guides. 

Alyx Tzamantanis.
Alyx TzamantanisSports Betting Editor

With 10 years of experience in content writing, Alyx has produced countess guides, reviews and articles covering a wide range of topics in the iGaming industry. She loves anything to do with online casinos, as well as UK and international sports betting.