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How Sports Betting Has Evolved Over Time

By Hank Blaine

Like all things, sports betting has evolved over time. The way we bet on sports today doesn’t compare to the way we bet on sports in the past. Also, technology allows us to bet on sporting events that take place in an entirely different time zone on an entirely different continent.

The evolution of sports betting is an interesting story. Check out the key points along sports betting’s timeline that shows how sports gambling has evolved.

A History of Sports Betting

1. Early 19th century it was all about the ponies

The first sports betting ever recorded involved placing wagers on chariot races in Rome. When the Romans invaded what we now call the United Kingdom, they didn’t have enough chariots.

So the Romans bet on horses versus other horses. These were money line and matchup bets. As far as we know the Romans didn’t bet on things like the exacta, trifecta, or superfecta.

2. Spread betting became a thing when college football became popular

Spread betting didn’t become a thing until the heyday of college football. College football had it’s golden years in the 1920s.

Red Grange, who played at the University of Illinois before joining the Chicago Bears, was the first ever football superstar. Pro teams like the Bears were popular, but college football, by far was the most popular.

The NFL didn’t become ultra-popular until Pete Rozelle became the commissioner and made a deal with the television networks to air games on Sundays.

3. The organized crime organized sports betting

Charlie Luciano got the nickname “Lucky” because he had a knack for finding longshot horse plays at Belmont and Aqueduct. Along with Ben “Bugsy” Siegel and Meyer Lansky, Luciano developed an organized crime web that included sports betting that expanded from New York all the way to Midwest.

Siegel is the one who got the mob into Vegas. He struck up a deal with the William R. Wilkerson’s Flamingo Hotel and started Vegas on the path to becoming a tourism mecca.

4. Organized loses control of Vegas

The criminal element started losing control of Vegas around 1986. The best representation of this happens in the movie Casino by Martin Scorsese.

One of the reasons organized crime lost control of Vegas is because Nevada politicians and corporations realized they could make more money with shows, restaurants, and other tourism type things.

One important thing to note is that Nevada remained the only state that had legalized sports betting. New Jersey had legalized other forms of gambling, slots and card machines, but betting on sports wasn’t legal in New Jersey.

The Federal Government had provided Nevada the monopoly.

5. Sports betting went online in the late 1990s

In the mid to late 1990s, like everyone, sports betting went online. People could make bets on sporting events via the Internet before Al Gore declared he had created the Internet in 2000.

If you wanted to make a sports bet, you didn’t have to go to Vegas. Instead, you could log onto an online, offshore, sports betting site and place your wager.

6. The Supreme Court changed the game in 2018

Congress and President Bill Clinton passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 1992. In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the law.

Striking down the law didn’t make sports betting legal in every state. What it did is put almost every state on the path to legalization.

More importantly, striking down the law destroyed barriers to sports betting. What had been a shadowy, frowned upon activity, went mainstream.

7. NitroBetting releases the first bitcoin only online sportsbook

In 2021, NitroBetting became the first bitcoin only online sportsbook. NitroBetting allows anyone with an email address to open an account.

NitroBetting has bridged the gap between decentralized currency, of which bitcoin is the first, and sports betting. We cannot overstate the significance of this.

By using BTC to make sports bets, handicappers keep their personal information private. They also control their money, which leads to individual sovereignty.

Where to Bet with Bitcoin

Sports betting odds are available here at Nitrobetting. Create a Nitrobetting account now to place your stakes on any of the top games every week.

This is just one of the many sports betting guides that you can read here at Nitrobetting news. Stay tuned for more previews, guides and articles.

READ MORE: History of Gambling From Ancient Times to the Digital Age