A history of football betting: How a global obsession has been spawned

They call football the beautiful game and there is little doubting that it is the most popular, exciting but unpredictable sport in the world.

Whether it is the rough and tumble of the Premier League, the class of La Liga or the suspense of the World Cup, big football matches attract global audiences in the millions and billions.

However, one aspect of the game to have evolved substantially over the last decade or so is betting on football.

What once appeared to be a jovial stab in the dark or a bit of fun has become a global obsession based around the best betting sites.

In days gone by, a British football fan would walk down to the local bookmakers and place a wager by checking boxes on a betting slip. Most towns only had one bookmaker, with the odds on offer the best you could get.

Fast forward to the modern day and betting in football is a massive industry.

Most Premier League clubs have betting partners, many are sponsored by betting websites and some modern stadiums have had their naming rights claimed by these wealthy organisations.

Where the traditional and longest-serving companies were once the powerhouses of the gambling world, a host of new players have sprouted up in quick succession to make it a very competitive marketplace.

Comparison websites that compile the best odds for the same bet have become massively popular, with punters looking to get the best value for their hard-earned money.

Betting companies are quick to offer new customers signing-on bonuses, free bets and loyalty rewards, with the latest offers being scanned over by an ever-growing army of football gamblers.

Where a gut feeling over the outcome of a game used to be the reason to place a bet, the tools available to the modern punter bogle the mind.

Companies spruiking stats-based mechanisms to predict outcomes have lured in betting enthusiasts due to their use of analysis, probabilities and the promise of lucrative long-term returns.

People no longer even comb over the form guides or read the latest team news in newspapers: it is all compiled for you by third parties, available through an app and at your fingertips.

While a 3-0 Manchester United win and Dwight Yorke to score first might have been a popular bet in the 1990s, today’s options for wagering are much more complex.

A betting company is not worth its salt if a punter is unable to bet on the number of corners a team will win, the total number of yellow cards in the game or if a certain player will hit the woodwork.

The days of ripping up a betting docket after something went against you are also all-but defunct, with in-play betting meaning that cashing out is a live option.

Technology has completely transformed the betting industry and the number of people across the globe doing everything in their power to make a correct prediction and win their fortune shows no sign of subsiding.

A history of football betting: How a global obsession has been spawned

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