Gambling, in its many forms, has been around for ages. It is from this habit of predicting chance occurrences that sports betting took place. It was common in early sports like horse racing, then known as the ‘sport of kings.’
In the very early days, sports betting was more of a pastime leisure activity rather than a profit-making venture. It was not well developed to be called an industry. Often, it took the form of two friends forwarding a similar stake, say a pound each, for the team they were supporting to bet.
As time went by, sports betting became more structured. There arose companies creating odds and selling stakes during competitions. Punters would queue to buy betting tickets from the vendors before the games were played.
Football betting, in particular, took shape as the game developed into organised leagues. With such organisation, it became easier to create odds for many matches at a time. This meant that betting companies had their risk spread and thus were unlikely to suffer a loss even if many bets were won.
Initially, there were lots of hurdles that the football betting industry needed to overcome. Firstly, there was the legal hurdle. In many places, there was no definite law to regulate betting practice. Many authorities thus banned it indiscriminately. In other areas, potential bettors stayed away for fear of getting scammed.
Secondly, there was the issue of players influencing games to actualise betting. Betting companies were at risk of suffering huge losses due to such influence. It took a lot of investment in partnering with league organisers to ensure players did not have betting interests in games they played. Nowadays, almost all leagues do not allow their football players to bet.
The third problem was the reach that the companies had. They had little time to get enough people placing stakes. The internet has greatly helped to solve this.