Even though gambling sometimes gets a bad press nowadays, there is no doubt that we humans have been gambling for hundreds of years and even some of the popular traditional casino gambling games we now play have their origins in games played by our ancestors a very long time ago. What has changed is how we gamble and what we gamble on, particularly over the last twenty years or so since the bookmakers began to offer us the opportunity to do our sports gambling and then our casino gambling online. There are still a few people alive today who remember that gambling on the horse racing or greyhound racing could only be done at the track or through a bookie’s runner, and that situation only changed when the bookmakers began to open their high street betting shops. The opening of those betting shops was a very significant step change in how we were able to do our sports gambling, and was probably just as important in the development of the gambling industry as the introduction of online gambling has been in the modern era. In terms of how we do our gambling when it comes to playing gambling games, the nearest equivalent to the opening of the betting shops was probably the opening of the bingo clubs in our towns and cities. Once again of course the availability of online casino gambling has taken how we play gambling games one step further. As far as what we gamble on nowadays as compared to the times before online gambling became a reality, we have already commented on how the modern casino gambling games have developed over the years, but the biggest change in this area of gambling has to be the enormous range of online slots games and video slots which have become available for us to play on the online casino gambling sites. This huge increase in gambling games is also mirrored in the much greater variety of sports gambling options we can now access online compared to what was generally available in most betting shops. To be fair to the bookmakers who owned those betting shops they were clearly going to respond to what were then the most popular sports from a gambling point of view, and certainly in Ireland that was undoubtedly horse racing or greyhound racing. These two sports are probably still the most popular sports gambling activities in most of our betting shops, followed closely by football. The increasing interest in gambling on football in Ireland is interesting because it is not necessarily focused on Irish football and is more likely to involve the English Premier League. Clearly this is a direct result of the widespread television coverage of the Premier League making it available to football fans all over Europe. Even the top Spanish, French and Italian leagues probably attract more football gambling interest in Ireland than our own games, and that is entirely due to easy media access.
Satellite television sports coverage plus the introduction of online sports gambling sites have been the major reasons for the changes we have seen in what sports and sporting events we are now gambling on. There are very few sports and sporting events which do not have quoted odds on most online sports gambling sites, so even what we would have considered to be minor sports in gambling terms a few years ago are now attracting wider interest. Many professional sports also no longer have seasons as such, and there are games and tournaments played throughout the year and right across the world. All of these games and events are now available to sports gambling enthusiasts through the online sports gambling sites. There are many sports which have benefitted from these worldwide gambling options, including tennis, cricket and golf all of which no longer appear to have closed seasons in the way they used to. Snooker is another example of a sport which is played all year round with tournaments being played all over the world and therefore also attracting gambling interest online throughout the year.
Gambling on some sports can however increase dramatically during particular major events or tournaments. In the same way that gambling on horse racing increases significantly when the Grand National or The Derby is being run, gambling on rugby is much bigger during the Six Nations as is gambling on golf during major tournaments or for instance the Ryder Cup. Rugby and golf are two sports which illustrate another reason why gambling on a particular sport can increase. Our Irish national team and our provincial sides are all currently doing very well, and we also have a number of extremely good golfers at the moment. We all enjoy following winners and gambling on these two sports is currently on a high in Ireland because of that success. There is no doubt that the availability of online sports gambling has increased the profile of many of these minor sports but it has also opened our eyes to a number of sports which almost never attracted any gambling interest in Ireland. Many of us now follow American football for example and basketball also now has a much higher profile. Both of these American sports have even become sports which are now played here in Ireland and both now attract gambling interest. This ability to access sports which are usually played in other parts of the world also acts in the reverse direction, because the legions of fans of our own GAA sports who are now resident abroad can now also access and gamble on those sports via the online sports gambling sites. There are many different events in our history which have changed the way we run our lives, but the introduction of online sports gambling and the ability to play a vast array of different gambling games online is definitely one of the most significant events in the development of the gambling industry and on the number of people who now enjoy gambling on a regular basis.