One of the many common factors that historians have identified throughout the many civilisations which form part of human history is our love of sport. Human beings are of course competitive by nature, which is why sport in one form or another has been with us ever since the ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. It is clearly arguable whether the gladiatorial contests in the Roman arenas could be classified as sport, but the first Olympic Games held in Greece would definitely qualify as sport even now in the twenty first century. Also ever present throughout our history is our love of gambling, particularly gambling on sporting events which again dates back hundreds of years. Over the years the number and range of sports and sporting events have obviously increased quite dramatically, but it is only relatively recently that sports gambling enthusiasts have been able to take advantage of that increased variety. In Ireland gambling on horse racing has been the biggest sports gambling activity for many years, followed closely by greyhound racing and more recently football. Almost all our sports gambling was of course through the high street betting shops, most of which rarely if ever featured anything but horse racing, greyhound racing or football, so it was not surprising that those sports were our primary sports gambling interest. The only thing that changed that was the introduction of online sports gambling. Over the last twenty years we have seen the internet become more and more accessible for us all, and this has not only led to a revolution in how we manage our daily lives it has of course also affected how we spend our leisure time. The big retailers were the first to recognise that the internet presented a big opportunity to develop a new market, but the leading bookmakers were not far behind in deciding to invest in the technology and software necessary to offer their sports gambling customers the option of gambling online rather than through their betting shops. We now know that the online sports gambling sites proved to be a huge success, so much so that the big bookmakers who were operating those sites decided to invest even more in online gambling technology and creating what we now call the online casino gambling sector. Adding gambling games to their online sports gambling sites dramatically increased the number of people regularly visiting online gambling sites, because sports gambling fans were joined by several new groups of gambling enthusiasts including regular casino visitors and even bingo fans. What these online gambling sites had which set them apart from any of the other gambling outlets was the opportunity to offer their customers far more choice than ever before. Suddenly the sports gambling fans were not restricted to gambling on horse racing, greyhound racing or football, the online sports gambling sites covered almost every conceivable sport and sporting event. Sports gambling fans in Ireland were not even limited to sporting events taking place in the northern hemisphere, football gambling fans for instance had easy access to the South American football or Australian football. Suddenly there was no such thing as a football season or a cricket season for instance, gambling opportunities were available almost all year round on a huge variety of sports. There is no doubt that the introduction of online sports gambling has been a huge benefit for most sports gambling fans, and even the worries concerning the effect that online gambling may have on attendance at our race tracks appear to have been over pessimistic. In fact a day at the races is still as popular as it ever was, and now that the greyhound racing tracks have also been upgraded attendance has even increased at most tracks.
The online sports gambling sites also appear to have had the same effect on support for some sports as television coverage did for sports such as snooker. When snooker started to be televised, its popularity soared and prize money also rose dramatically. The same effect has recently been seen with the television coverage of darts and both of these sports are also well supported among the online sports gambling community. Television coverage is also important when it comes to gambling on major sporting events. The recent British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand for example brought rugby to the attention of many more sports gambling fans than a normal regular weekend fixture would, and the same effect is seen every year during the Six Nations tournament. Golf majors and Grand Slam tennis events also dramatically increase the gambling turnover on those sports while they are in progress because gambling on these sports is now much easier online than it ever was before. Even our GAA sports of football and hurling now have a much bigger following among Irish sports gambling fans than they had before online sports gambling was available. In fact gambling on the GAA sports online has even become popular among the Irish ex pats across the world, particularly of course in America. Online sports gambling has also enabled us over here to get more involved in American sports. Gambling on grid iron football, baseball and basketball has definitely increased in Ireland as a result of the accessibility of information on all the online sports gambling sites operated by our bookmakers. Online sports gambling has ensured that there are very few sports and sporting events that are not available to sports gambling enthusiasts in Ireland and almost everywhere else in the world. It has also helped to create a situation where many sports now take place almost all year round. There are no longer seasons for tennis and golf for example, and even cricket is now an all year round sport for the top professionals. It is difficult to think of any sport which has not been effected by the introduction of online sports gambling. Even athletics has become a sport which is closely followed by many serious sports gambling fans around the world.