5 Interesting Sports Betting History Facts

Today, sports betting is one of the biggest entertainment branches in the world, with an estimated worth of $250 billion, but did you know that sports betting dates to ancient times?

In this article, we look at some of the most interesting historical facts about sports betting.

First Sports Bets

Many people don’t know that sports betting is as old as sports and that it dates all the way to ancient times. According to many historians, some of the first bets ever made were on chariot races.

Similar to today’s bettors, ancient bettors tried to predict which chariot race would finish in the 1st place.

Boxing and wrestling also became popular for bettors a couple of centuries later. However, horse racing was the most popular sport to bet on for centuries and only lost that title with the invention of modern sports like football.

With that said, even today, horse racing is the most popular sport to bet on in many countries.

The First Online Betting Site

It is widely accepted that the first ever online bet was accepted in January of 1996 on the online sportsbook Intertops which would also later be the first mobile sports betting site. This forever changed the way that bookmakers operate, as well as how sports bettors place their bets.

There is no question that sports betting would not be as nearly popular as it is today without the expansion into the digital world.

Nowadays, technology allows punters to place bets wherever they are and in a matter of seconds, which adds to the overall thrill that this activity brings. By some estimates, there are around 2.7 billion smartphone users in the world, which accounts for around 35% of the population, and all of them can access sports betting sites.

No matter where you are located, you can always find a suitable site. Even if you are on vacation in Thailand, there are sites like UFA100 offering you both local and international action with just a couple of clicks on your phone.

Biggest Sports Bet In History

Sports betting might be thousands of years old, but the largest legal sports bet was made recently. 

In October of 2022, Texas millionaire Jim McIngvale, also known as “Mattress Mack,” placed the biggest legal wager in the history of sports betting. According to multiple sources, Mack places a $10 million bet on the Houston Astros to win the World Series.

The Astros beat the Philadephia Phillies 4:2 and secured a $75 million payout to Mack, the largest win in sports betting history.

Multimillion-dollar bets are nothing new for the Texas millionaire who is well known as one of the biggest sports bettors in the US and the man who held the previous record for the biggest wager in history with $4.9 million.

The Biggest Sports Betting Scandal

Although the “Black Sox” scandal happened early in 1919, it remains one of history’s biggest sports betting scandals.

During the 1919 World Series, eight Chicago White Sox players were charged with intentionally losing the championship series to the underdogs Cincinnati Reds. It was discovered that each of them had received $10,000 from the gambling syndicate run by the notorious gangster and gambler Arnold Rothstein.

Because of this, the National Baseball Commission was dissolved, and judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was named the first Commissioner of the League with the task of restoring the sport’s image in the public’s eyes.

And although all of the charged players were banned from professional baseball, the image of professional sports and sports betting was ruined for the years to come.

Biggest Sports Betting Event Of The Year

The biggest sports betting event of the year is the National Football Association championship game in the US, also known as the Super Bowl. 

Per some estimates, bookmakers accept over $100 million in bets each year before and during the biggest games in the US.

There are a couple of reasons for the enormous amount of money bettors wager during this event: the popularity of the Super Bowl, the numerous promotions that run before and during the game, and the third the number of betting options.

Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, which ended 23:20 in favor of the Rams, was the biggest Super Bowl ever in terms of betting volume. The bookmakers reported an estimated $500 million in bets during this game.

Learn about football betting for FREE

Join our free email course to learn all about football betting. You will learn theory and techniques to make you a better bettor!

Sign up for free