The Story behind Sports Betting
Those of us involved in sports betting on a regular basis probably realize that in truth, there was never really any "start" point when people began betting on sports. It seems pretty natural to place some kind of wager whenever there is a contest between two different sides, whether it is a competition between individuals or between two different teams
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In fact, there are records to show that as long as there have been matches between people, on any side; there are those who want to add some excitement to the competition through wagering. From the gladiatorial contests in ancient Rome to foot races on North America's Great Plains, all cultures have put bets involving money or goods when they are watching a competition.
Today, of course, sports betting are much more sophisticated than those ancient wagers. All around the world, bookmakers both big and small follow several different systems which allow them to make money off of people's penchant for punting. Whether we are talking about professional or amateur leagues, you can bet that you will be able to find someone willing to take your wager.
It's important to realize that the story of sports betting is just as much about these "middle men" than it is about the sport one is betting on. Bookies set up their odds based on very complex mathematical formulas, which help them to determine how they can make a profit off of people's bets. They don't want too much "action" (money wagered) on one side or another, to avoid losing their profit. So, they have thought up ways to encourage people to bet on each side.
One of those ways is to offer higher payouts should the team receiving less bets win. Those who take the "underdogs" stand to win a lot more money per dollar bet than those who take the favorites.
Similarly, the point spread is used to encourage betting on both sides of any given match. Both methods allow the sports books to come out of each match with some money.
The story of sports betting involves not only book makers, but also the law. You are probably familiar with the popular image of the bookie; a thug who takes money and will behave violently when not paid. However, there are many legal, above board sports books today that are legally sanctioned to take sports bets. In North America, all of these books run out of Las Vegas.
In other areas of the world, sports betting is legal but is also highly regulated. Governments and sports bodies as well, desire to protect the honest competitive nature of sports. With the sheer amount of money being bet on the outcome of games, it can be tempting for players to forget about competition in favor of a bribe or other type of payout. The history of most sports contains stories of players throwing games in order to receive money from a bookmaker. Laws such as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act seek to prevent this from happening by prohibiting sports betting in certain cases and places.
Of course, the next chapter in the story of sports betting may make such efforts moot. Today, sports books are among those businesses which have capitalized on the opportunities available online. Bettors in North America no longer need to make the trip to Vegas in order to put some money down on their favorite team; instead, the ability to wager is just a click of the mouse away.
Not only are more people able to wager on sports through the Internet, the amount of information available increases the chances of making good bets in a way that has never been seen before. Of course, the information also means that books are able to compensate, but the opportunities for making some serious money (at some risk) are still out there.