Football Betting: A Quick & Dirty History
From the old-school neighborhood bookie to Vegas sportsbooks to the ever-increasingly common online sportsbooks, football betting has come a long way in a relatively short time.
In years past, if a gambler wanted to bet on football he or she would place a wager with the neighborhood bookie. In the nineteen-sixties, in an effort to control what had become an enormous underground industry, the Federal Government legalized sports betting within the state of Nevada, and made it illegal everywhere else in the U.S. With the rise of the world wide web, online football betting has become an internet commonplace and online sportsbooks take in billions of bets each year. This didn’t all happen overnight.
Football betting has been around longer than many of the more traditional sports bettors care to remember. Originally, football betting took place in a back alley or a local pub and the local bookie was the person who cashed in on the wagers placed on football. The only choice many people had for gambling on games was through the local bookie. Back then, bookies had an image of being the tough guy. They flashed the money they made, and when credit came due and a bettor couldn’t pay, bookies often resorted to violence. It was this image and violence that led to their eventual downfall.
The Federal Government isn’t fond of underground, untaxed, and lawless economies. And that’s exactly what football betting was. In addition, whether true or not, the feds were convinced that many of these neighborhood bookies had mob ties. In order to stop control and regulate football betting and all other betting on sports, the Federal Government outlawed betting in all states but Nevada. The only legal way to bet on football at that point was to do it in Vegas.
However, many industries have been outlawed in the history of the United States, some recently, some not so recently, and none of them successfully. So even after Las Vegas sportsbooks were legalized football bettors still tended to use the neighborhood bookie, and the business thrived. This was true for many reasons, but especially financial ones: it’s neither easy nor profitable to hop a plane to Las Vegas to place a $100 wager. Despite this success, the neighborhood bookies weren’t by any means free from the attempts of the police to shut them down. Legal issues were an unwelcome nuisance for the business, and police raids were costly and frightened off business. What bookmakers really needed was a way to get out from underneath the long arm of the United States’ law. They found it in the late ’90s on the internet.
Online football betting was born in the late 1990’s when a number of neighborhood bookmakers realized there was a way to reach larger audiences as well as to escape the legal issues that had become a hindrance to their business. The increasing ubiquity of the internet allowed football betting to become more secure, more accessible, and lastly but not leastly, more fun. Offshore sportsbooks really started to catch on in the early 2000’s and have since become the most popular method for football betting. Online gaming companies took over $12 Billion in bets in 2005, and those numbers are predicted to grow by at least 20% this year. Along with the success has come attention both friendly and otherwise. As the online sportsbooks become more popular every year with the football betting crowd, the United States government looks for ways to reach beyond their own borders to block the flow of U.S funds to offshore companies and to make online football betting illegal for football bettors here in the States. Many Americans feel that this is as doomed to fail as other attempts at the prohibition of “vices”, as well as unnecessary, as the industry becomes increasingly self-regulated.
The offshore sportsbook industry has come a long way in its short life. In the beginning the instances of sportsbooks not paying winning customers was almost too many to count. The gold rush atmosphere brought entrepreneurs with little or no business or gaming experience running to set up an offshore shop and cash in on the craze. The result of these fly-by-nights was a black eye for the industry as a whole. Since then, sportsbook review sites like SportsIntensity.com and offshore watchdog organizations like SportsBettingScams.org have stepped in to help police the otherwise unregulated industry. The effect of these sites has been to make football betting scams more and more rare every day. The positive result of all the attention that online football betting has attracted is that it’s much more difficult to scam bettors when everyone’s watching.
Football betting was forever changed by online sportsbooks and the days of the old-school neighborhood bookie are now forever gone. After the lawless frontier days, offshore sportsbooks have become the easy and accessible, secure and legal option for millions of football bettors. Expect this trend to continue. bookies