History of Sports Betting
In regards to sports betting, horse racing saw that the most widespread popularity throughout the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century. In its initial phases racing was a sport that was enjoyed and wagered on by mostly the top course. But following the Civil War horse paths began to scatter the eastern landscape and bettors from all financial sectors flocked to the paths in droves.
Many enterprising bookmakers would start’auction pools’ in the first days of horse racing which involved auctioning off bets for every horse in a hurry. But this format was short lived since bettors were out of luck if the horse they wanted to bet on was taken. The bookies – consistently considered an innovative bunch when contrasted with professionals from any other industry — soon realized that placing chances on individual horses could raise betting handle and, in turn, the bookie’s hold. When there was overpowering cash on one horse, the bookmaker would simply lower the odds to increase the attractiveness of other horses at the race. This format is still in use today, although horse betting has steadily diminished in popularity because the 1930s.
By the 1920s racing had reached its peak and there were more than 300 racetracks from the U.S. in addition to thousand of’pool halls,’ or off-track betting facilities, which were attached to the tracks by telegraph wires. Here locals could place their bets on horses in a large number of racing venues around the nation. Horse racing remained the most popular type of gambling until professional sports leagues began forming and capturing the attention of the nation’s gamblers.
In the late 1800s, professional baseball started to gain popularity and, therefore, so did betting on the game. Baseball’pool cards’ became a standard in metropolitan regions from the East. These cards, similar to present-day parlay cards, provided bettors an array of baseball betting choices they could bet on for amounts as little as 10 cents. However there was a catch with these pool cards: the chances were seriously skewed in the homes’ favor. There was no way to get a bettor, no matter how sharp they might have been, to make a profit within an elongated time period. No one appeared to care, however, as the cards continued to rise in popularity while the bookies’ pockets continued to get fatter.
A fixing ignominy from the 1919 World Series — dubbed the’Black Sox Scandal’ by the press — exposed the risk of professional baseball to be compromised by bettors. Some players in the favored Chicago White Sox have been discovered to possess fixed games at the petition of gamblers (Chicago lost the show into Cincinnati, 5-3). The scandal rocked the nation and the public has been given a negative feeling of sports bettors, who had been made to look like offenders who were attempting to ruin the sanctity of the game for their own monetary advancement. While gambling was illegal, most believed sports betting must be a victimless crime before the scandal broke.
Baseball, however, pushed forward despite the black eye, and the bettors did not waver in their zeal to have action on the matches. If baseball lost anything because of the moral consequences of the Black Sox Scandal and other instances involving fixed baseball matches, it wasn’t reflected in the nationally betting handle, which continued to grow progressively.
Even more people became interested in sports betting during the’Golden Era’ of sport in the 1920s. College football and college basketball were gaining huge popularity with bettors, as had been boxing, and baseball was as well liked as ever. Pool cards would be the favourite option of many bettors due to their promise of wealth during the difficult economic times of the Great Depression. Football pool cards were shown to be as popular as the baseball cards even though bettors confronted the challenge of picking a winning combination of usually five or more matches in hopes of a big payday. The same as the baseball cards, the odds for football cards were greatly in the bookie’s favor.
“It was a stickup — an absolute robbery, however you didn’t know any better,” says former Mirage Race & Sports Book Director Jimmy Vaccaro of the pool cards, which were known as’spot sheets’ in his native Pittsburgh. “The chances for a 10-team [parlay] were 100-1 and twists lost on every card. Now you can get 800-1 or 1000-1 [for a 10-team parlay]. You performed for its danger. You played for a massive payoff if you would get blessed.”