The word ‘gambling’ means taking a risk, and that is something which has always been at the very heart of human activities for hundreds if not thousands of years. Throughout our history adventurers and pioneers have often gambled with their lives to explore our world and discover new places, animals and materials many of which have improved all our lives. There are of course now far fewer unexplored places on earth for our pioneers and explorers to risk their lives reaching, but gambling with our health and even our lives remains part of our nature. Some of our modern leisure activities such as bungee jumping for instance, have only come about as a result of our inbuilt thirst for danger. For most of us however, the word ‘gambling’ is more likely to refer to playing gambling games or gambling on our favourite sports, and it is just money we are risking rather than our lives. By referring to this form of gambling as risking only money, we are not in any way ignoring the health and wellbeing issues which can affect the lives of that small minority of people who suffer from a gambling addiction, but simply expressing the thoughts of the majority of people who enjoy gambling. Until recently the most popular forms of gambling in Ireland were probably bingo, slot machines and gambling on horse racing. Since our leading bookmakers introduced their online sports gambling sites however, not only has the way in which many of us now enjoy our sports gambling changed, the range of sports we gamble on has also changed. When our sports gambling was done by visiting our local high street betting shop, it was most likely to be horse racing or maybe greyhound racing that we were gambling on, but the introduction of online gambling has dramatically increased our sports gambling options, both in terms of the number of different sports we can follow and when we can follow them. Log on to any of the online sports gambling sites operated by the leading bookmakers and you will see a huge range of sports and sporting events for us to enjoy, but you will also notice that our online sports gambling options are not just limited to what is happening in Europe we can now follow sporting events from all over the world. We still have our traditional favourite gambling sports of course but many of what used to be considered minor sports in terms of gambling interest are now very popular online sports gambling choices.
In Ireland we probably still enjoy gambling on horse racing more than any other sports gambling activity and we still have a huge diverse horse racing industry based here, but things are undoubtedly changing. Online gambling and a massive new investment in the facilities at the tracks has meant that gambling on greyhound racing is returning to the levels of popularity the sport used to enjoy. Many people would still say that gambling on greyhound racing, and horse racing for that matter is far more enjoyable at the track than anywhere else, but both forms of sports gambling are increasingly popular online.
There is of course one sport which nobody interested in sports gambling can ignore, and that is football. There is no bigger global sport than football, which is now played and watched in almost every country in the world. The result is that gambling on football is probably now bigger worldwide than any other sports gambling activity. Television and the internet has also meant that football has become one of the richest sports in the world in terms of investment, and propelled the leading players into stardom and money beyond their wildest dreams. Wherever you are in the world you can usually watch football on television, and football gambling fans can always find a match to enjoy being played somewhere in the world. The top players are of course attracted to where the biggest rewards are to be found, so that the major European leagues now feature players from all over the world and also attract the biggest gambling interest. In Ireland for instance football gambling fans are probably more likely to follow the English premier league than our own domestic leagues, such is the power they now have.
What online sports gambling has achieved though is a renewed interest in gambling on our own GAA sports of football and hurling. Both of these sports are now featured on all the leading sports gambling sites and although they are definitely minority sports in terms of global interest there are huge numbers of Irish expats now following the games. There are a number of other sports which used to be of little interest to sports gambling fans in many parts of the world, but big business elsewhere, one of which is of course cricket. No one could argue that gambling on cricket was ever big business in Ireland, but in India it is undoubtedly the biggest sport in terms of gambling revenues. The new forms of the game have broken all records in India and cricket gambling has consequently become even more popular. The same can be said of other sports which we have until now tended to believe were confined to other countries. American football and baseball are both huge gambling sports in America and have been for many years, but it is only recently that most of us over here have started to take an interest. The American football franchise owners in particular are now making a concerted effort to expand the popularity of their game, and basketball is also making headway as a spectator sport over here which in turn will increase gambling interest.
The range of sports which we can follow through the online sports gambling sites also includes many which have always attracted a loyal following in Ireland. Snooker for example benefitted hugely from being televised extensively some years ago, and the recent success of Irish golfers has also led to an increase in gambling interest during the major tournaments. Rugby is another very popular sport in Ireland, particularly during the Six Nations which is again televised. There are of course many others we have not mentioned which also attract attention from sports gamblers.