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How Football Betting Has Changed Over Time

This article is going to show the rise of football betting and what it’s like now compared to its early days.

Football betting has come a long way since its birth many years ago. The game first developed in the mid-19th century with official rules being set out and has evolved into the sport we love today.

The story around the football betting scene has been just as exciting. This article is going to show the rise of football betting and what it’s like now compared to its early days.

Where it all began

It’s tough to say where sports betting in general originated but one thing is for certain: before the 1960s, it was illegal to wager on a football match, meaning any betting activity done before then was conducted in a criminal safe house or on the streets.

Bookmakers did exist during the early 1900s, but you could only bet on horse and dog racing.

If you wanted to take part in anything of a gambling nature in the football world, the only option was to take advantage of Littlewoods’ weekly pools. However, they are far different to what they look like in the modern day.

The pools worked on the following basis: it was typically a points-based scoring system, where punters would get points based on how close their guesses of the result of up to 12 games was to the actual score.

When everything changed

In 1960, the Gambling Act legalised many gambling activities, one of which included wagering on football matches. In the years that followed, dozens and dozens of betting shops opened across the country looking to profit from the government’s change of heart.

From this day forward, football fans could legally wager on a football match without pool bets.

This did not mean, however, that it would be all glitz and glam. In fact, betting shops were some of the darkest and dreariest shops on the high street. The government purposely encouraged blacked out windows with no visible advertisements to people walking by.

This created an image that although it was legal to gamble, if you were seen entering a betting shop, you were a dodgy person.

This didn’t stop people going though and saw the rapid growth of the UK bookmaker marketplace.

Further legislation in 1986 meant that betting shops could now feature brighter interiors and even televisions to show the action live.

Punters’ betting options were still limited in this period though. The minimum trebles rule meant that throughout this football betting boom, a game must be shown live on TV for someone to place a bet on it. Any bets placed on non-live games would have to be placed alongside two other selections to be valid.

The Sky Sports Era

When Sky Sports acquired the rights to show matches from the Premier League in 1992, multiple games started being shown every weekend. With the popularity of football never higher, there was more exposure than ever before to the football betting scene.

Even though the treble rule still existed at this time, more and more matches were eligible for a single bet because there was an increased number of live games being shown.

Bookmakers themselves stepped out of the shadows a little too. Marketing material for football bets was now stocked instore and in the shop windows, while the betting shops became increasingly brighter and more appealing to a passer-byer.

Bookies also began to take bets from customers while a game was running that was being shown on TV. In the modern day, this is known as betting in-play or live betting. For most of the decade though, betting on football was mostly done offline but towards the end, that was all about to change.

Online betting

The birth and subsequent explosion of the internet at the end of the 1990s truly revolutionised the way we bet on football. The new school bookies began to pop up in abundance, offering an entirely online operation.

A whole new world of bet types suddenly opened to football betting fans. Things that would have seemed impossible just a few years prior, such as betting on corners, yellow cards or penalties, suddenly became available to anyone with an internet connection. Punters could now bet on football from the comfort of the own home.

There were a few other key developments alongside the birth of the internet that really enabled the online operators to flourish. The betting tax was abolished in 2002, so punters could gamble tax free, with the tax instead moved to the bookies’ gross profits. The minimum trebles rule was also abolished, which meant that single bets could be placed on any match and bet type.

These changes in legislation made wagering on a football match even more appealing and made a game feel even more important. With more people becoming invested in football matches, other businesses began to thrive, such as pubs showing the games.

Modern betting

In the current day, betting on a football match is largely done online or via an app on a mobile phone or tablet. Bookmakers know it’s so simple to load an app given how much people use their mobile devices nowadays and are encouraging use through advertising.

Matched betting with Profit Accumulator has also become a modern way that people can wager on a football match, taking advantage of all the offers bookmakers must give punters an edge.

Compared to how the football betting scene was looking not even 20 years ago, the differences are vast.

Betting shops are not as popular as they once were, given how easy it is to make a bet from anywhere in the world through mobile apps.


What once was deemed criminal activity is now one of the country’s biggest business sectors. It’s gone from dodgy-looking street corner shops to an explosion of mainstream TV and online ads and apps.

The footballing world has evolved to incorporate the betting scene with more twists and turns to come.

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