Football betting in the United Kingdom may have unofficially started a lot earlier than 1923, but that is the official year when it all started in Old Trafford. The football pools on offer were the first of their kind and for several decades after that, it remained the only way for football fans to wager money on match outcomes. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, which is where the history and development of football betting in the UK starts.
The Ready Money Football Betting Act
The Betting Houses Act of 1853 made all forms of gambling or sports betting completely illegal in the UK. However, that changed drastically after the Ready Money Football Betting Act of 1920 was introduced and the terms of the previous act were changed to accommodate the new Act. Finally, betting on sports was no longer illegal and credit betting was allowed by the government. It did, however, impose limits on how much money can be used for betting.
The initiation of Littlewoods
The first record of a registered company officiating football pools goes back to Littlewoods Ltd. The business was founded by John Moores with just £150, with investment partners Colin Askham and Bill Hughes (£50 each). It is said that the idea behind the football pools came from a man named John Jervis Barnard, although he was not a part of Littlewoods.
In just over a year and right in the middle of the 1924–25 English Football Season, the company took enough losses for partners Askham and Hughes to sell their partnerships back to John Moore and leave the football pools for good. By then, over £600 was already invested in Littlewoods by the three partners (£200+ each), so Moore took a huge risk in buying his partners out.
Littlewoods and football betting starts to grow
With a few words of inspiration from his wife, Moore continued to work on making Littlewoods a success. He did find huge success a few months later, and by 1930, John Moore was a millionaire and now there were several other rival companies such as Vernons involved in the football betting business as well. He is also the one who pioneered the mail order (credit) service during the mid-30s. William Hill joined the scene soon after in 1934.
The Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 legalized various other forms of betting and gambling, allowing betting shops and casinos to be open in public places. It was during the 60s that Ladbrokes came into the picture and slowly started to grow bigger. Nevertheless, Littlewoods maintained its dominance in the industry for many years. In fact, back in the 1980s, Littlewoods became the largest and most valuable private company in Europe.
It could not keep up with the changing times, however, and started to suffer losses, mainly on account of the company’s inability to recognise the online platform’s game-changing potential. The dream came to an end in 2004, but a new line of online bookmakers was on the scene.
How it works now
Offline bookmakers are still around, but even they have their online presence nowadays because that’s where the main business is. We can now open accounts with several bookmaker websites simultaneously, check the odds online, and place an informed bet from our smartphone, without ever having to depend on anyone else for expert opinion. If you are fairly new to the football betting game, we have a set of quick tips that will improve your chances of making the most of each bet.
- Research the recent performance of both teams and their key players.
- Use a sure bets calculator to calculate the amount of money you will get from your guaranteed winnings from arbitrage betting.
- Find out if any key player is missing from either of the two teams.
- Do a bit of research on the two team’s recent outcomes against each other.
- Keep a small portion of your betting budgets reserved for live bets.
New restrictions have been imposed, the laws have changed, and the acts have been updated several times over the decades, but betting on the beautiful game has become an integral part of British culture in the process. The only thing that has really changed significantly is the platform. Just as it is with gambling in general, online football betting has replaced traditional football betting as the prime platform.