Gambling has been part of human culture for hundreds of years, and gambling on sports and sporting events is equally a well-established feature of our history. What is new is the option to do our gambling online from our own homes or even as we go about our daily business by using our mobile phones. It really is not that long ago that almost all our gambling options involved travelling and required us to visit a casino, bingo club or betting shop. Many people still prefer to do their gambling that way, but it is no longer essential. The internet and online gambling sites have probably led to the biggest change in our gambling habits in our history, but it is not just the convenience of online gambling that has caused that change it is also the hugely expanded range of gambling options we now have online. The online casino gambling sites in particular have gone far beyond the limited gambling games we could play at our real casinos, and there are also now several different versions of bingo and similar numbers games featured online. On top of that we now have easy access to hundreds of slots gambling games at all of the online casino gambling sites, far in excess of anything we could possibly find in an arcade or even one of America’s super casinos. But it is not just the online casino gambling sites which have provided us with more gambling options, the online sports gambling sites have also given us far more choice of sports and sporting events to follow. Before online sports gambling became available most of us were limited to gambling on horse racing, greyhound racing or football, because these were the sports that our betting shops tended to promote. If you wanted to place a bet on any other sporting event you would have to ask about the odds because they would almost certainly not be chalked up in the shop. Log on to any of the big online sports gambling sites now operated by the leading bookmakers and you will find an enormous range of sports and sporting events displayed on the site, including events taking place on the other side of the world. There is no longer any such thing as a closed season for the avid Irish football gambling enthusiast, they can bet on matches being played all over the world. Horse race gambling fans in Ireland have always been relatively well served by bookmakers such as Paddy Power through their high street betting shops, but online sports gambling has even given those gambling enthusiasts more options by featuring race meetings from other parts of the world. One of the most interesting aspects of the rise in online sports gambling however has been the fact that it does not appear to have had any effect on the number of people actually going to events. Horse race meetings are still extremely well attended in Ireland and in the UK, and greyhound racing has even seen a resurgence in interest over recent years thanks to new investment in facilities at the tracks. As for football online gambling has certainly not had any effect on attendance at the grounds. Let’s face it if blanket television can’t stop fans going to the match, nothing will.
Horse racing, greyhound racing and football have always been the most popular sports in Ireland, and are almost certainly at the top of any regular sports gambling league. There are of course specific sporting events which occasionally lead to a peak in interest from sports gambling fans. A big boxing match for instance usually gets a huge following in Ireland, as do big rugby matches during the six nations tournament or as we have seen recently any British and Irish Lions match down under. Many observers of the Irish sporting scene also believe that the huge range of sports gambling options we now have online has actually increased interest in most of what are usually considered to be minor sports in Ireland. Tennis and cricket for example now have a higher profile than ever in Ireland, as does golf although that is partly due to the recent success of Irish golfers. In terms of public interest in a particular sport or sporting event, success is of course a very important element. Even football has suddenly attracted more interest because our national side has been performing well over the last couple of years, as indeed has our rugby team. The GAA sports obviously have a big following here in Ireland, but the advent of online sports gambling has also brought those sports back to the attention of the huge number of Irish citizens now living abroad. It is now very easy for an Irish American for example to gamble on a hurling match here in Ireland via an online sports gambling site, just as it is for Irish American football or baseball fans to follow their favourite teams. Online sports gambling has removed almost all national borders as far as gambling on sporting events is concerned, and there is almost no sporting event anywhere in the world which we cannot place a bet on if we wish. There is no doubting the fact that television was the first new technology to influence the sporting scene around the world, particularly when the satellite television companies started to invest so heavily in sport, particularly football, but the introduction of online sports gambling has had a similar effect, particularly with some of the minor sports. There is very little doubt that the popularity of snooker for instance was entirely due to both television coverage of the big tournaments and programmes such as Pot Black. The leading bookmakers which operate the online sports gambling sites have also invested heavily in many of the popular sports, particularly through shirt sponsorship deals, and the combination of massive television coverage and the opportunity to gamble on a much greater range of sports has undoubtedly benefitted almost every sport in some way.