A sportsbook is a place that accepts wagers on sporting events, including all types of racing events. Some of the more popular sporting events include American and International football, basketball, baseball, horse racing, golf, tennis, and boxing.
In the United States, most land-based sportsbooks are located in Nevada. However, with the emergence of online casinos in the 1990’s, online sportsbooks took off and now enable you to place bets on sporting events from the comfort of your home.
In 1994, Antigua & Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act that allowed offshore licenses for online betting operators. Along with the Internet, this legislation helped advance online casino operations and helped contributed to the success of online sportsbooks.
Below is further information on some of the oldest running online sportsbooks and their current status today.
Oldest Online Sportsbooks
The world’s first online sportsbook was Intertops, having formed as a bookmaker in 1983 and accepted its first online sports wager in January of 1996 from Finnish bettor Jukka Hunkavarra. In addition to becoming a pioneer in online sportsbooks, Intertops revolutionized mobile betting by becoming the first sportsbook to introduce mobile betting in the year 2000. By 2003, the site evolved into the first all-in-one casino site with a sportsbook, casino games, and online poker games.
Intertops is still fully functional today and operates out of Antigua and Barbuda. During the early days of Intertops, the site did not attract many American-based players as they were largely invite-only via the site’s existing American-based players. In February 2015, Intertops allowed new American players to sign up on their site and create accounts on their own accord.
One downside of Intertops is their lack of speedy withdrawals, however, they did begin accepting Bitcoin sports betting in 2015 and Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals are both free. Additionally, their casino is a Realtime Gaming (RTG) powered casino and the selection of games and layout is about average, but certainly is not unreasonable.
Intertops offers a $200 sportsbook signup bonus, which carries a wagering requirement to cash out.
Intertops also offer live betting options where you can wager on outcomes and various aspects of any sporting event as it unfolds live. And much like other sportsbooks, Intertops offers you a chance to parlay your bets.
Launching as a bookmaker in 1992, Centrebet was the second online sportsbook and first bookmaker licensed in Australia. The first online sportsbook in the Southern Hemisphere entered the online sportsbook market in 1996 just after their competitor Intertops, and by 2003 they were acquired by the SportsOdd Group. Two years later, SportsOdd officially merged with Centrebet with SportsOdds.com and SuperOdds.co.uk. In 2006, the company was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
In 2011, the company was purchased by Sportingbet, thus forming one the largest gaming operators in Australia. However, within two years Sportingbet sold their company to a UK-based company and Centrebet was later acquired by and merged with Tom Waterhouse, under the William Hill company umbrella.
Centrebet offers a relatively low minimum deposit, and along with its user-friendly interface, it is one of the better online sportsbooks. One downside is that live betting is not available to Australian residents as it is an Australia-based site and abides by the country’s laws in that regard.
Centrebet differs from many of its competitors by not offering new customers bonus bets of up to $200. Instead, the company hopes you will head over to William Hill, which is part of the larger company umbrella. Although, Centrebet is its own independent operation.
Worlds Sports Exchange
Shortly after the first online sportsbooks emerged in 1996 Worlds Sports Exchanged joined the market in 1997. The company accepted its first sports wager online on January 5, 1997. It quickly blossomed into a well-liked online sportsbook, but unfortunately terminated operations in April 2013.
In 2000, founder Jay Cohen fought a lawsuit with the United States where he was accused of violating the Wire Act of 1961 despite operating WSE out of Antigua. Jay became the first person found guilty of violating the Wire Act by accepting sports wagers in a jurisdiction where it was legal to do so. He was sentenced to 21 months in Nevada prison and was mandated to pay a $5,000 fine. Antigua fought back via the World Trade Organization due to the jail sentence and the inability to reach American-based customers.
World Sports Exchange also fell victim to scandals surrounding unpaid withdrawals. By 2010, it was reported that withdrawals unpaid exceeded $250,000. The casino, poker, and sportsbook operations were all offline by the end of 2013. The sportsbook owed more than $1 million in unpaid withdrawals in 2013.
Tragically, co-founder Steve Schillinger committed suicide in 2013.
In 2016, co-founder Haden Ware plead guilty to violating the United States’ Wire Act of 1961, but avoided jail time and just received six months of probation.
The company was founded by William Hill in 1934 in an era when gambling was illegal in the UK. In 1998, William Hill became the first UK-based company to launch an online sportsbook. Today, the company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and offers sports betting, casino, poker, and bingo games.
Through strategic patience and business savvy, William Hill has become one of the best bookmaker and gaming companies in the industry. They are the largest UK operator representing around 25% of the market in the UK and Ireland.
In 2012, William Hill expanded into Nevada by purchasing three chain sportsbooks: Lucky’s, Leroy’s, and the satellite operation of Club Cal Nevada. They became the first UK bookmaker to acquire their license to operate sports betting apps in Nevada. The company expanded into Australia in 2013 by purchasing Sportingbet, Centrebet (the second online sportsbook), and tomwaterhouse.com.
The United States, Germany, France, Turkey, Denmark, Estonia, and Portugal are all restricted from accessing William Hill’s UK online sportsbook.
William Hill is known for their quick payout policy, which can often time occur within hours on a normal business day during the week. There are no fees for deposits or withdrawals no matter what method you choose to utilize for payment or withdrawing funds. Overall, William Hill has built an excellent reputation for sustaining their business since the 1930s. Many players trust their brand and if you are in the UK or Ireland there your best choice for an online sportsbook, especially among the best soccer sportsbooks, is most likely William Hill.
Online Sportsbooks Today
Ever since the 1990’s online betting, in particular, online sports betting, has been rapidly accelerating no matter. According to a report published in 1998 by a global consulting firm, Frost & Sullivan online gambling revenues topped $830 million, which included sports betting.
In 2003, Sporting Index became the first UK released the country’s first mobile betting application, and now mobile sports betting is essentially a given via any online sportsbook. However, the United States banned online sports betting in 2006 with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and this caused sites to withdraw from the online market.
Through new technology and off-shore accessibility players in the United States have found a way to continue wagering on sports via online sportsbook. In 2009, money wagered on online sports-betting topped $50 billion, all unregulated. Currently, the online sports wagering industry has an estimated worth of $700-$1,000 billion, enough to be a gross domestic product (GDP) of an entire first-world nation.
Many of the oldest online sportsbooks still flourish today. They have demonstrated the ability to adapt to regulation and technology and sports-betting remains a thriving sector of the online gaming market.