Football Betting

The History of Football Betting

Football is not just something you do to make time pass; this applies both to those watching and those playing. It’s also a business. The drama that unfolds on the football field comes from huge cash flows sent into circulation, as does the fuss around it.

Today, it is almost impossible to separate football from betting on the outcomes of each match.

Already in the early days of football, people dug deep into their pockets to find some coins and bet on the team they thought would win. Today, we do the same with just a few clicks on the mobile phone.

Betting on football is a natural part of the weekend entertainment in England and around the world. This has not always been the case. Betting has seen a series of legislative changes, which created today’s gaming industry and betting companies.

Let’s look at the history of football betting, and how it all started in England, the home of football.


4.5 rating
Welcome Bonus 100% up to €50. Enjoy 20 free spins!
4.8 rating
Welcome Bonus 100% up to €100 & 101 free spins at Betsson Casino

The First Years

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the first official football matches took place, there was no betting like we know it today. Those who wanted it could, however, bet a few pennies on the results.

Private betting was made possible for events like the finals of the FA Cup, and big matches between the arch-rivals England and Scotland. Those interested in betting could, therefore, always find someone willing to cover the bet.

During the first 40 years of football, sport and betting existed side by side without any direct links. It was not until 1923 that betting coupons were sold before a match at Old Trafford in Manchester.

These were primitive compared to the ones we see today, but they represented the start of something new. For the first time, one could bet on the results of not just one, but several matches at the same time.

In hindsight, we can safely claim that this was a hit. Finding the right winning combinations using skill and luck created the basis for the betting business. For many, the prospect of winning money on football was very enticing.

Besides the chance to win big, it was the game itself that intrigued the large crowd. After World War II, betting was given even greater recognition, and soon it also became possible to play on odds.

 Football Betting becomes legal

Let’s fast forward to 1960. Nearly forty years after the first coupons were sold in Manchester, betting was formally legalised through the Betting and Gaming Act. This is perhaps the biggest event in the British history of betting.

The 1960s gave us girls in miniskirts, the first James Bond films appeared on the screen and the youth let their hair grow. The football-crazy British became even more football crazy, if possible.

The new law on gambling lifted some restrictions and provided new betting opportunities. Not only could you bet on the result of the match, but you could also bet on a wide spectrum of markets.

Additional information before the match could also be helpful. For example, if you saw the star of the home team stumbling drunk out of a nightclub in the middle of the night, you had time to make a bet on the basis of this small but far from insignificant observation.

The law also became the starting point for the bookmaker industry as we know it. Many of those who started out back then are still with us today. A visit to a local bookmaker on the way home from work became common all over England.

However, these commissioners kept a low profile, and you had to visit simple and discreet offices to place your bets. Although the authorities had approved them, they did not want to stand out in any way. Of course, the football-loving crowd had no trouble finding them. From now on, football and betting were a symbiosis to be counted on.

Into the 2000’s and beyond

The new millennium brought more news to British betters. Until 2002, they had to bet on the results of at least three games on their coupons. It was called “Minimum Trebles».

But from then on, they could only bet on the result of a single match. It simplified the game and made it easier to win. The prize might not be very big, but for some, it is always fun to win whatever the size of the prize.

More importantly, the so-called player tax was abolished. Before this, neither the bet nor the prize was tax-free. That is to say; you could choose whether you would pay taxes on the bet or the prize if you won.

For example, if you wagered one pound, you would have to pay a 9% surcharge to avoid paying tax on any prizes. In this case, the price for betting one pound was £1.09. If you didn’t prepay the tax, 9% would be deducted from the winnings. While there may have been an extra gambling element to this, it was not a popular tax. The removal of this tax was thus well received, so well in fact that there was an increase in bets on football.

Today’s Football Betting Situation

The removal of “Minimum Trebles” and the opportunity to bet on individual matches was a milestone in the history of betting. This led to much greater involvement among most people. Football betting used to be big business. It’s well beyond that now.

Technological developments and the use of computer tools have contributed significantly. It’s no longer necessary to seek out a dark and smoky room to place your bets. It’s still possible to stop by a real bookmaker, but most people place their bets on the mobile phone or computer.

Betting on football online

The data age has seriously entered the world of betting and has consequently changed it. This applies to both the way you bet and what you can bet on.

In the old days, the access to information was limited. You could, of course, read a newspaper or betting magazines, but then you would just bet on the same things as everyone else. Some may have been lucky enough to have a brother-in-law on one team, who could give tips on which players were injured or unavailable. Also, there were always some know it all at the pub that could affect the way you were betting, but most of it was probably based on pure instinct or personal preference.

Today, everyone uses the internet. You can always collect fresh information about all the teams and players, and all kinds of statistics. Whatever tips you get at the pub can easily be verified. And all this is free and accessible to everyone. How you use the information is up to you.

It’s not compulsory to use the internet, and many still find it more fun to follow their intuition. Imagine the joy when an arbitrary coupon goes in and the experts are completely stumped. This is and will always be significant part of betting. Regardless of what information you might or might not have, betting is still so easy that everyone can place a bet, and everyone can win.

There is also a much wider range of markets to bet on. With all the information directly available, you can bet on more than just the result of the match.

For example, if you are an expert in statistics, you can bet on the number of corners during a match, how many cards dealt or how many goals scored.

If you haven’t placed your bet before the start of the match, you can do so while it’s played. All you need is access to the internet. You can place a bet ten minutes after the match has started. There are solutions that support this almost right up to the last minute of play. The winnings get smaller as the probability of a given result increases, but live betting can make the match more interesting.

The British could also only bet on the home leagues. This is no longer the case. When football takes a break on the British Isles, it’s possible to bet on series or cup matches all over the world, from the Japanese league to Allsvenskan.

All things considered; you are in a better position than ever before. It’s all about winning over the bookmakers. In fact, they have no better access to information than those who place the bets.