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History of bookmaking and the first ever bets on the EPL

We all associate betting and bookmaking with the UK and the EPL. In this article we’ll look at the history of bookmaking and its beginnings.

Betting and visiting the bookmakers has always been a nice way for Britons to unwind and relax after an exhausting day at the office. Even British football players have often said that if they weren’t forbidden from gambling by their clubs, they would most definitely visit bookmakers regularly.

In fact, when we asked some players for a recommendation of a bookmaker or a casino, almost all said in unison that we should check out the reviews at and that, almost exclusively, the footballers choice is Playtech.

Bookmakers these days are always standing out from the surrounding buildings because of their bright colours and trendy decor. However, when betting started in the UK, bookmaker shops were dark and intimidating venues, and people would often condemn punters and gamblers for visiting these stigmatized places.

Punters never lost hope of better days though, and those days came in the early 60s, on May 1st 1961, when all UK bookmakers which fulfilled the required conditions were legalized. These conditions however, represented a considerable obstacle for most small bookmakers who had to close down their illegally ran businesses and let the big companies like Ladbrokes take over.

With the big companies taking over, betting became much safer for the regular punter and for the first time in history punters and betting enthusiasts were looked at as regular folk and not as criminals being hidden away from public sight.

However, betting shops had to have their windows tinted dark and weren’t able to advertise their services to the rest of the public. They were forced to wait for 25 years before the laws and regulations changed and became more liberal towards the bookmakers. This represented a so called coming out of the Dark Ages for betting.

This was the period when people who frequented betting shops started to have access to hot and cold beverages, the ability to follow live matches on TV, and to read specialized sport magazines right there on the spot.

In this period 4 large betting enterprises were dominant on the market – Coral, William Hill, Ladbrokes, and Mecca. These were the bookmakers who revolutionized the betting industry and introduced tons of changes in what, up until then, was a pretty limited market in terms of betting offers. When the EPL started in 1993 punters had to have a minimum of 3 matches on their tickets and could only bet on the three possible outcomes. So if you wanted to bet on who scored the first goal in the first official match of the EPL between Sheffield United and Manchester United you wouldn’t have been able to do that.

However, with the growth of satellite TV, the ever increasing TV deals, and nowadays with the rise of the Internet and the ever increasing use of smart devices, the betting industry changed dramatically. Bookmakers started offering all sorts of betting markets and almost all conditions for a ticket to be considered valid were abolished.

Today, punters can bet on over/under goals, half time – full time, goals scored, who scores first, time of the first goal, numbers of corners, fouls, yellow and red cards and a myriad of other betting markets. Live betting is no longer a luxury, and is now a necessity for every profit oriented bookmakers, and betting on virtual matches seems to be more common with every passing day. It’s staggering how far betting has progressed. It started in shady and dark establishments and it is now transformed into a global phenomenon.

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