Here in Ireland one of the many things which tends to unite us all is our love of sport. Whether playing or watching most of us are able to become very passionate about our favourite team or our favourite player in the case of an individual sport. It is also true that many of us are also enthusiastic gamblers, so it is hardly surprising that sports gambling is one of the most popular leisure pastimes in this country. For many years of course that passion for sports gambling tended to be concentrated on the sport of horse racing or greyhound racing, both of which were extremely popular in Ireland, but since the introduction of online gambling options other sports have started to attract our interest. Gambling on horse racing almost certainly remains top of the list in terms of sports gambling turnover, although gambling on football is probably catching up very quickly. The way our love of sport and our love of gambling combine is however very different from one sport to another, and is obvious when we examine these two leading gambling sports. Most observers would agree that horse racing would struggle to exist as a sport without gambling, whereas the financial success of football is not directly affected by gambling at all. Buying and training a race horse is a very expensive investment for the owners, and the vast majority of them will be considerably out of pocket at the end of the day. Operating a race course is also an expensive enterprise so the whole industry relies on a combination of horse racing fans paying to go to the races, and armchair horse race gambling fans betting on the results with the leading bookmakers who then subsidise the prize money at the tracks. Horse racing in Ireland is of course far more than just a sport, it has developed into a very important industry on which hundreds of jobs rely, and our love of gambling is a very important element in the continued success of that industry. Greyhound racing is probably even more reliant on the greyhound gambling enthusiasts who attend the tracks. Clearly buying and training a greyhound is not as expensive as a racehorse, but greyhound racing as a sport still requires enthusiasts to invest in the sport, particularly the tracks. We have witnessed how important that investment is over the last few years, when following years of decline we are finally seeing greyhound racing becoming a popular leisure activity again. This is due entirely to new money being invested in the tracks and more importantly the hospitality facilities they offer, so that an evening watching and gambling on greyhound racing has become attractive again. It is clear that both horse racing and greyhound racing rely heavily on the sports gambling public, whereas football does not. Certainly there are some bookmakers who are shirt sponsors for high profile football clubs, but the vast majority of the money in football comes from the television broadcasters. We enjoy gambling on football because it is high profile and in the modern world is almost available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It doesn’t even matter that the majority of the football we gamble on and watch is not even played in Ireland. Our football fans are just as likely to be supporters of English premiership teams as they are our own professional sides, it is very much a worldwide sport.
When the leading bookmakers decided to invest in the technology to enable us to enjoy our sports gambling online, many observers wondered whether there would be any damaging effects on either the gambling industry as a whole and on the sports which rely most on the gambling public, namely horse racing and greyhound racing. Several years have now passed since the first online sports gambling sites were introduced, and there does not appear to have been any lasting damage as far as the sports are concerned. Certainly the betting shops have suffered a little and are now reportedly dependent on the fixed odds casino gambling machines they have installed in order to survive, but here at gambling.ie we have not seen any adverse effect on either horse racing or greyhound racing. As far as football is concerned the effect of online sports gambling has probably been to increase the number of people gambling on football. One thing is certain, the introduction of online gambling sites has increased our gambling options dramatically, both in terms of sports gambling but also with a vast array of gambling games on the online casino gambling sites.
If we concentrate solely on the sports and sporting events we can now follow on any of the leading sports gambling sites, we have far more choice than ever before. All of the major online sports gambling sites operated by the big bookmakers offer odds on a huge array of sports and sporting events from all over the world. The GAA sports of football and hurling for example now have a far bigger following among the sports gambling community than before, and even our expats all over the world can now easily access and follow these sports. Irish sports fans in common with most other sports fans are naturally more likely to take an interest in sports in which Ireland is successful, so rugby is now also a popular online gambling sport, as is golf and even cricket all of which have seen some Irish success over recent years.
We have talked about football being a worldwide sport, and about online sports gambling sites enabling Irish expats to follow our GAA sports wherever they live, but online sports gambling also enables us to follow sports which are not normally considered to be Irish. Many more of us are now gambling on sports such as American football, baseball and basketball. Even ice hockey now has a strong following among Irish sports gambling enthusiasts. Our access to these sports and their increasing popularity is entirely due to the introduction of online sports gambling and the range of different sports it can provide.