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History of Sports Betting

Sports betting is ingrained in American culture with deep roots


Sports betting has long been a favorite American pastime for several hundred years evolving every century to become the multi-billion-dollar industry that it is today. The history of sports betting in the United States can be traced to the early 19th century. Horse races were one of the earliest forms of sports betting. When professional baseball was established in 1876 that kicked things up a notch. While betting had always been a simple form of entertainment, the addition of baseball meant larger sums of money in play, bigger stakes and the incentive to cheat for big payouts.


In the 1900s sports betting was on a roll, gaining popularity by the day with expanding opportunities to place wagers. Times were good, bettors were making money and rules were lax until the “Chicago Black Sox” scandal cast a serious concern on the darker side of gambling and betting. Eight of the Chicago White Sox players accepted bribes to throw the 1919 World Series game. Despite the scandal, sports betting kept growing to add collegiate basketball and football into the mix. It became an attractive enticement for quick cash for people financially suffering through the Great Depression.


While sports betting was illegal in its infancy there were no sufficient laws or agencies to enforce it. The legal side of sports betting first got attention in 1931 when Nevada legalized gambling. This is about the time that the mafia also got a stronghold on the industry by operating nationwide wagering services in states that did not have legal gambling. This eventually led to the 1961 Interstate Wire Act created to protect state lotteries from the competition. This only pushed the sports betting industry underground.


Some of the most infamous mobsters tied to the underground gambling industry include Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal, Tim Donaghy, Tony ‘The Hat’ Cornero and the Gambino family that ran organized crime and illegal sportsbooks throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.


Las Vegas is the cornerstone of sports betting because that is where it has remained legal the longest. The first official sportsbook started in 1949 in Vegas and it remains at the heart of sports betting today.

The next significant turn in sports betting happened in 1992 with the passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that was used to define where sports betting could be done legally to clamp down on gambling addiction. This law was overturned in 2018 in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.


In 2006, the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act restricted online payments that were used for gambling. Despite the ruling, many online sports betting outlets that were based outside of the United States, could still legally serve bettors.

Today, the options for sports betting are better than ever and the wide range of sporting events and teams to wager on means the industry will only continue to grow especially with the addition of peer-to-peer platforms like PostitPlayit. The PostitPlayit platform gives you even more control over sports betting because you set the odds and manage your challenges. Take advantage of legal sports betting now on the PostitPlayit platform and enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes.