Betting in bookmaker offices, which today almost every inhabitant of our planet can make, was not always available to all comers. People have had a craving for excitement since time immemorial, and not all bets were placed on the outcome of a sporting event. People bet on all kinds of events, from livestock, money and houses to slaves, wives and even their own lives. Interestingly enough, basketball was originally invented by American Indians but the team captain who lost was executed.
History has preserved the evidence of one of the most ancient and famous bets made by Roman consul Mark Antony and the ruler of Egypt Cleopatra. Thus, the queen offered a wager that she would manage to drink an incredible amount of wine at dinner. The Roman managed to win in an amazing way – Cleopatra dissolved a large pearl in her glass and drank the contents.
Horse racing became hugely popular with the passage of time – it is this sport that stands at the origins of the popularity of bookmaking around the world. By the way, bookmakers themselves, it is worth paying tribute to them, made a significant contribution, supporting equestrian sport, donating funds for the care of horses and the construction of racecourses.
It is far from a coincidence that the bookmaking profession has become so popular. Gambling became a hobby for people all over the globe, and as you know, demand creates supply. People needed an opponent who was willing to put a large sum on the line, but who was also willing to have an opposing opinion.
That is when sweepstakes were born, when money was collected from all those who wished to bet, which was later divided into equal amounts between those who guessed the right result. A percentage of the money at stake went to the organiser who took the bets. The only serious drawback was that people did not know exactly how much they would win at the end of this or that event.
The system could be modified only with the lapse of time – bookmakers became serious companies with big turnover and players were offered predetermined odds. The bets are settled individually and are not related to forecasts made by other gamblers.
In which countries did the first bookmakers emerge?
It is believed that bookmakers originated in the United Kingdom. It is not surprising, because the Foggy Albion has the largest number of betting shops and bettors.
The permits, which are required to operate a betting shop, are issued by betting licensing committees. But disputes between bookmakers and players are handled by the Independent Bookmaker’s Arbitration Service.
A bit of history. Thus, in 1845, Englishmen used to bet only at racetracks, and only since 1961 bookmakers’ activity was legalized in England. Today, betting is accepted both offline and over the phone, as well as on the internet.
An alternative viewpoint states that the prototype of the first bookmaker’s office was created by Pierre Oehler, who accepted bets on race results in France.
For a very long time, cockfighting was very popular in Italy, which spread to Europe at the turn of the century. So, in 17th century in France and England cockfighting became one of the key entertainment for members of different estates – students, royalty and landlords were fond of it.
But bookmaking is probably most prominent in the US, where betting is often described as having links to criminal clans and underground bars.