We often comment on how the introduction of few gambling games onto the big online sports gambling sites eventually led to the development of what we now call the online casino gambling sector and vastly increased the range of games we are able to play, but the same effect was also seen on the sports gambling sites themselves. One of the biggest advantages that all internet businesses have over their rivals is that they have very few limitations on the products or services they are able to offer their customers. Whether it is an online retailer or an online gambling site they can clearly offer far more options than any business operating from even the biggest out of town premises, and certainly more than a high street betting shop. Sports gambling, particularly gambling on horse racing has always been one of the most popular forms of gambling in Ireland, but until we were offered the chance to do our gambling online there were not that many easy alternatives. Most of us did our gambling through our local high street betting shop and for a variety of reasons those shops were only geared up to offer betting on horse racing, dog racing and more recently football. It was not easy to find out what odds were being offered on any other sports and sporting events unless it was a really major event such as a World Cup or the Olympics. Nowadays every online sports gambling site covers a huge range of sports and sporting events from all over the world and we can place our bets from our computer at home, or even on the move through any mobile device which is capable of connecting to the internet. Sports gambling has never been so easy and it is not just the historically popular gambling sports such as horse racing which have benefitted from that. We can now follow a huge range of what used to be considered to be very minor sports from a gambling point of view, and as our interest in some of those sports has increased so has investment and sponsorship. During the early stages in the development of online sports gambling some critics thought that the ease of being able to gamble on sports such as horse racing from home would seriously affect attendances at the tracks, but that does not appear to have happened and if anything gambling on horse racing is more popular than ever.
Even the regular attendance at our greyhound tracks is now increasing rapidly as a result of easier gambling options and increased investment in the hospitality facilities at the tracks. There certainly do not appear to be any adverse effects on any of the big spectator sports from the introduction of online gambling, but it is not just the wider range of sports offered by the online sports gambling sites that has had a positive effect on our sports gambling habits. As we have already noted the online sports gambling sites are able to cover sporting events from anywhere in the world, so Irish football gambling fans for instance no longer have those boring out of season weeks when there are no games. They can and do now follow football from the other side of the world. This aspect of online sports gambling coupled with the increasing sports coverage from satellite television companies has not only extended the seasons for sports fans, it has also extended the earning capacity of the professional players because very few of the most popular sports now have much of a closed season. Sports such as cricket, tennis and even golf have usually been considered to be primarily summer sports here in Ireland and elsewhere in northern Europe, but all of these sports are now played all year round and their fans can always find a tournament or match to follow at any time of the year. Football is now the most popular sport in the world and serious travellers say that wherever you go in the world you will find kids playing football. It is also the sport which attracts the most investment and where the best players can quickly become world famous and very rich, but many other sports may not be so universally popular right around the globe but are still the biggest attraction in some countries. Cricket is a typical example of a sport which is undoubtedly the most popular sport in India but in Ireland would probably be considered to be very much a minor interest sport. Gambling on cricket in India far exceeds gambling on football and their top cricketers are treated more like film stars than sports people.
Probably the best examples of sports which are big business in some countries and not others are some of the American sports, particular American football and baseball. Both of these principally American sports are gradually gaining fans elsewhere in the world of course, as are basketball and ice hockey but they have a long way to go before being able to compete with football on the world stage. Online sports gambling does however help to spread the influence of sports like these, particularly when there is coverage on television or indeed on the internet. Our own GAA sports also benefit from increased coverage on the big online sports gambling sites, particularly those with a special Irish interest such as Paddy Power and Ladbrokes. Again the fact that these online sports gambling sites can be accessed right across the world means that Irish ex pats can also now follow their favourite hurling or Gaelic football clubs wherever they are in the world. Many of us will remember how sports such as snooker benefitted from increased coverage on television, and the same affect can now be seen as a result of the much wider range of sports gambling options which have resulted from the introduction of online sports gambling. Very few sports or sporting events are not available for us to follow online and it is so easy.