Whilst it is true that sports gambling has been popular in Ireland for very many years, it is also true that access to sports gambling online has totally changed not only how we gamble on our favourite sports but also what sports we follow. Before the online sports gambling sites became so widely available most of us would place our bets at our local betting shop, and in the main it would have been horse racing that we were gambling on. In fact the betting shops were so geared up towards horse racing that even gambling on football was very much a minority pastime. Nowadays of course a visit to a high street betting shop is a totally different experience. Not only are they much more cheerful places but they have been forced to respond to the competition from online gambling and offer a much wider range of sports gambling options. Controversially they also now offer their customers the option to play gambling games such as roulette on what are called fixed odds terminals installed in their shops, which they claim are essential if the betting shops are to survive. Only time will tell, but as far as we are concerned at gambling.ie it is the improved range of sports gambling through our betting shops that we welcome most.
There is no doubt that gambling on horse racing remains the most popular sports gambling activity in Ireland, and the accessibility of online sports gambling has not changed that. As things stand of course the sport of horse racing is totally dependent on the support of the bookmakers and our attendance at the tracks. Clearly more people are gambling on horse racing online, but that does not appear to have diminished our love of attending the race meetings and gambling at the track. Another sports gambling activity which has always been popular in Ireland is greyhound racing, and this is also a sport which relies on our attendance at the tracks to survive. In fact even before online sports gambling became so widely available greyhound racing did suffer from a fall in attendances which almost destroyed it. Thankfully massive investment in the tracks and the hospitality facilities has not only saved the sport, but greyhound racing is now more popular than ever.
It is difficult to say exactly when gambling on football started to become a major gambling activity in Ireland, but walk past any betting shop or open any popular newspaper and you will see special offers relating to gambling on football. Satellite television and online gambling have also been a major factor, with top quality football available somewhere in the world almost every day. Even in Ireland it is the English premier league which attracts the most attention in terms of gambling on football, and many Irish fans also regularly gamble on the Spanish and Italian leagues.
The introduction of online sports gambling sites in conjunction with a huge expansion of television sports coverage worldwide has had two major effects on our sports gambling habits. The first is that for many sports there is no longer a closed season as such, because professional sportsmen and women now play their sports all year round which in turn means that we can also gamble on those sports all year round. Secondly we have to look at the enormous range of sports we can now follow. Log on to any of the big sports gambling websites and you will find a very long list of sports on which you can place a bet. In Ireland of course this has significantly increased our gambling on the GAA sports, but the online bookmakers tell us that there has also been a surge in interest in American football, basketball and even baseball. Perhaps we should not be surprised by this because there is a huge Irish population in America who are likely to enjoy following the GAA sports online, and more and more American sports are being covered by the satellite and cable television channels in Ireland.
As far as other sports gambling options are concerned their popularity may well depend on how successful the Irish teams are at the time. Take rugby union as an example. Over recent years Ireland have probably had their most successful period in their history in the six nations tournament, and their provincial sides have also done extremely well in the European Cup. This therefore resulted in a surge in interest in gambling on rugby during that period. A similar effect has also been noticeable when looking at the number of people gambling on golf. Again Ireland have recently been well represented among the top golfers in the world and their success has boosted gambling on their sport.
Golf is also an ideal example of a sport which takes advantage of another feature of online sports gambling which is increasingly popular, and that is in-play gambling. All professional golf tournaments take place over four days, with a cut off after two. This means that golf gambling fans have ample opportunity to place more bets as the tournament progresses. Snooker is another sport which is proving popular among those sports gambling fans who enjoy in-play gambling. The accessibility of online sports gambling through modern technology has even changed the way many people watch their favourite sports. After all it is now possible to sit in the stands watching your favourite football team and place a bet on who will score the next goal without leaving your seat.
Other sports which have attracted considerably more interest among sports gambling fans since the introduction of online sports gambling sites are boxing and motor racing. Boxing has of course always been a popular sport in Ireland and we have had many notable champions over the years. It is also another sport which offers in-play gambling opportunities. Gambling on motor racing is a relatively recent addition to the list of popular gambling sports, but F1 in particular is watched by very many people in Ireland. Just about every sport has benefitted in some way from the improved accessibility of sports gambling via the internet.