Over the last twenty years or so we have witnessed a quite remarkable revolution in how technology can affect so many aspects of our lives. First it was computers rapidly spreading into our workplaces and then into our homes, followed by the development of mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and now mobile phones all of which enable us to access the internet wherever we are and whatever we are doing. E-mails, texting and social media sites have totally changed the way we communicate with each other, both socially and particularly in the workplace where it sometimes appears that everybody is trying to move towards a paperless environment. Widespread access to these devices has made the internet such an important part of our lives that it is difficult to remember when we couldn’t just google something if we didn’t know it, or book a hotel, manage our bank accounts and pay our bills, all on the move or without leaving home. All of these things have undoubtedly made our lives easier but such easy access to the internet has also significantly changed how we spend our leisure time. Here at gambling.ie we are of course interested in how the internet has changed our gambling habits as technology has made access so much easier. Sport and sports gambling has always been a significant part of our leisure time here in Ireland, but the internet plus of course satellite television has changed totally changed how we enjoy our sports and sports gambling. Our live sports venues are thankfully still well supported, but many more of us now have the opportunity to watch our favourite sports and sporting events without having to be there in person. The same applies of course to our sports gambling activities because we no longer need to place our bets through a betting shop, we can now do everything online. When the big bookmakers first introduced online sports gambling sites, our first reaction was to applaud the convenience of being able to gamble on our favourite sports online, but it quickly became clear that convenience was not the only advantage to be had from gambling online. Whether it is sports gambling online or playing gambling games at a casino gambling site, the range of options has increased dramatically. No casino or slot machine arcade in Ireland could ever compete with the range of casino gambling games we can now play online, and our betting shops were certainly not able to offer odds on anything like range of sports we can now access online.
Before online sports gambling became so widely available most of our sports gambling was confined to horse racing, the greyhounds or football. Horse racing in particular was and probably still is almost a national sport for many people in Ireland, and horse racing is certainly big business in this country. Many would also argue that even though it is so popular the sport of horse racing is totally dependent on the sports gambling fans who attend the meetings as well as those who do their gambling on the horses online or through their local betting shop. That would certainly be true when it comes to greyhound racing, as we have seen over recent years. Lack of investment in the tracks led to a fall in attendances and even a lack of interest in gambling on greyhound racing in Ireland. It was only when the greyhound racing community decided they had to improve the experience of going to a greyhound racing evening by offering much better hospitality facilities that the decline was reversed. Thankfully gambling on greyhound racing is now as popular as ever and the sport is in good health.
Of all the sports to have benefitted from satellite television and the internet, football must be the most obvious. It’s true that gambling on football was always one of our favourite sports gambling activities, but almost continuous coverage of football from all over the world has undoubtedly increased football gambling everywhere. Football is perhaps the only true worldwide sport, but it is not dependent on gambling in the same way as horse racing or greyhound racing. It is not totally independent though because several of the most famous clubs have reached shirt sponsorship deals with leading bookmakers.
The introduction of online sports gambling has however allowed us to get involved in gambling on a wide range of other sports as well as the three we have discussed so far. It has even revived interest in gambling on our own GAA sports of hurling and football. The GAA sports have always been well supported in Ireland of course, but as we all know there are huge Irish ex pat communities all over the world who now have easy access to the online sports gambling sites, and love to gamble on these sports. Snooker and golf are two other sports which can now be followed almost all year round both on television and through online sports gambling sites. Both are popular gambling sports in Ireland, probably due in part to the success of Irish players over recent years, which also applies to rugby. The Irish national rugby team and our provincial sides have recently had several years of success, and this has also led to an increase in gambling on rugby.
The range of sports Irish sports gambling fans can now follow online is of course no longer confined to sports we are traditionally quite good at, and there are even some sports which are relatively new to many of us. American football, baseball and basketball are all sports which have a huge following in the US but are only now starting to establish a fan base over here with the help of television and of course online sports gambling sites. For most American sports gambling fans those three sports are their only interest, whereas in India for example that would certainly apply to cricket. Just as gambling on horse racing has always been our biggest sports gambling activity here in Ireland, there is no bigger sport in India than cricket.