In spite of the increasing criticism of some aspects of gambling, particularly the fixed odds terminals which are now commonplace in our betting shops, we need to remember that gambling is a human trait which has been with us throughout our history. Much of the discovery and invention we humans have been able to achieve over the centuries has been the result of someone gambling their life or their assets on a successful outcome to their search. For most of us of course our gambling instincts tend to be confined to playing gambling games, slot machines or gambling on our favourite sports and sporting events. In Ireland sports gambling has historically always been our most popular gambling activity, with gambling on horse racing in particular almost an Irish tradition. Our fascination for horse racing has led to a situation where many of the most influential and successful racing stables and stud farms are based in Ireland, and horse racing is now an important industry in its own right. Although our love of gambling on horse racing has not changed over the years, the way we do it definitely has changed. We are far more likely nowadays to do our sports gambling through one of the many online sports gambling sites than we are to visit our local betting shop. Even though visiting one of our high street betting shops is now a far more pleasant experience than it used to be, we are rapidly changing our habits and choosing to do our sports gambling from home, or even on the move through one of the many mobile devices we carry with access to the internet. It remains to be seen whether our betting shops in their current form will survive this change in our sports gambling habits, although there are still many sports gambling fans who prefer to follow their horse racing or football match in the company of other fans and if they can’t get to the track or the football stadium then a betting shop may be the obvious answer.
Gambling on horse racing is of course not the only sports gambling activity with deep historical roots in Ireland, greyhound racing also has a long history in the country. Often referred to as the poor man’s horse racing greyhound racing offered a very different sports gambling experience. Most greyhound races were staged in the evenings, so that fans could go after a day’s work, and the races were much quicker and of course far more visible from the stands. Greyhound racing was extremely popular for many years, but lack of investment and changing expectations from greyhound racing and gambling fans led to a dramatic decline in the popularity of the sport. Fortunately over the last few years all our greyhound racing tracks have been upgraded, with huge investment in hospitality facilities and the greyhound racing fan base has been restored. A night at the greyhound races is now a great night out and increasingly popular.
The introduction of online sports gambling has greatly increased the range of sports that we sports gambling fans can easily access on a regular basis, which has meant that some of what we used to consider to be minor sports in terms of gambling have now become more popular. Online sports gambling has also given us easy access to sporting events all over the world, so that there are no longer closed seasons for many sports. The rise of football as a global sport is a typical example of how the internet and television has changed how football fans follow their sport. If we are honest gambling on football was not a major sports gambling activity before blanket television coverage and the massive influx of money came along. Nowadays gambling on football is at least as popular as gambling on horse racing in Ireland and is undoubtedly the biggest worldwide sports gambling activity. Football gambling fans now have access to football matches somewhere in the world almost every day of the year, and the biggest football clubs now have fans in every corner of the globe. In fact Irish football gambling fans are probably more likely to place bets on the English Premier league or Spanish league games than they are to bet on the Irish leagues.
Ireland does however have its own popular sports which are the subject of attention from Irish sports gambling fans living all over the world, and those are the GAA sports of football and hurling. Online sports gambling has meant that Irish ex pats all over the world can now follow these traditional Irish sports wherever they are, and gambling on the GAA sports has therefore become a popular sports gambling option. Ireland are of course not the only country to have their own popular sports which online gambling and of course television have introduced to the rest of the world. American football is rapidly gaining a following on this side of the Atlantic, and we now have many sports gambling fans who regularly gamble on the big games. Baseball gambling is also on the increase all over the world as more and more games are shown on satellite television. Sports gambling is very much a worldwide activity, and online sports gambling has greatly improved our options.
There are still what many of us would consider to be minor sports in terms of gambling activity, but even some of these can be big business in other parts of the world. Cricket for example is not a major gambling sport in Ireland, but in India it is easily the sport with the biggest following among sports gambling fans. Snooker has been a very popular gambling sport in Ireland for many years, but never on the scale that it has now reached in parts of Asia. Golf is another sport which tends to be followed closely by sports gambling fans during major tournaments but perhaps not so much for the rest of the year, and the same could be said about rugby. All of these sports have however undoubtedly gained from the introduction of online sports gambling opportunities.