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If you were to track the history of the leisure industry from its early roots through to modern day activities and participation, you would likely find that gambling in various forms is up there as one of the oldest known models of interacting and partaking in a leisure activity outside of work. Evidence shows that gambling was around long before many of the sports and concepts that gamblers now bet upon were even conceived; with the earliest examples of the gambling industry culminating in death and violence before more of a structured industry was introduced in the 17th century.
Today, gambling isn’t just a word used to refer to a form of betting – it is also an adjective which modern consumers use to describe someone who has made a decision that could go either way; stating that they are “gambling” with the odds instead of selecting a specific outcome. Why is this relevant? For one thing, it shows a shift in the way that the modern consumer regards gambling. Once upon a time, gambling was the norm and it was what consumers did in their time outside of work – betting on the outcome of fights, sporting events, and even community occasions. Today, however, gambling as a sport is met with controversy, with the concept of addiction and mental illness being closely linked with gambling in many instances.
The fact is, consumers today have more disposable income, and even if they don’t, they have easier access to loans now than ever before. This means that modern day gambling is not only easier to find online and in dedicated gambling stores, but it is also easier to fund through various loans and credit accounts – until the banks catch up with you.
While this demonstrates the decline in the reputation of the gambling industry on one level, in most cases this is an extremity which is never reached – with gambling across most of society simply providing an exciting form of engagement in a sporting event, occasion or outcome.
And it doesn’t just end with the big sporting events and important odds offered in light of various occasions. Gambling also expands into the everyday, with leisure venues such as arcades which present a series of fruit machines and small penny slot machines all sitting under the gambling umbrella. Another common community example is Bingo, which again creates an opportunity for the luckiest players to win some money, though in more of a sociable setting in terms of the concept of Bingo as a game rather than an occasion or event where it is the outcome which is bet upon.
The earliest examples of gambling stem from the days of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, where bets were placed on the outcome of both gladiator and animal fighting; the wealthiest individuals taking ownership of their own fighters and creatures, and placing huge bets on them to win. These were not just early examples of gambling, they were also early examples of spectator sports where violence was used as a means of entertainment and where consumers across all levels of society would back their favourite parties and encourage them to fight to the death.
Gambling since then has become a lot more civilised, however the concept still remains very much the same. Money is placed on the likelihood of a specific outcome occurring, with its certainty being used as a means of judging how much should be laid in the bet. In the early days, gambling was simply performed as a bet between a series of people – with the biggest change today being the organised betting and gambling which is in place so that consumers are no longer playing against their friends, acquaintances and even enemies – instead they are playing against an organised system which uses both human and data to calculate variations and possibilities.
Today, gambling is a form of bet which can be taken in response to all manner of different outcomes and events. Some of the most popular examples outside of sports include the naming of the Royal baby, the likelihood of a celebrity couple getting married or divorced, the outcome of a reality game show and who will win, and even completely random concepts such as whether or not aliens exist and will infiltrate planet Earth in the next few decades. As humans learn more and become more interested in the lives and lifestyles of others, so we as consumers find new ways of making their realities our own – by betting on them, in the hopes of winning money in light of various outcomes.
In order for this to happen, it is up to the provider or betting shop to ascertain the likelihood of this happening, and to determine and market the odds that they are prepared to offer to captive consumers. Betting and gambling across sporting events in particular has become evermore complex as time has gone on, with the result of who will win no longer a gamble worth taking in most instances. Today, the best gambling odds are found on very specific results – for example in the case of football, a consumer may choose to place a bet on the likelihood of a specific team reaching a certain score by half time or full time, with the option of placing a bid to an amount that they are willing to lose, in the hopes that the odds offered by the betting shop will present them with a profit.
To look at the top providers in the gambling industry, it’s important to note that the distinction between brands and companies has little to do with what is being provided in terms of odds and bets; and much more to do with the customer service offered by each. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the odds are always exactly the same across all companies and providers - rather, sites likes Odds Checker prove that different companies do indeed offer different odds in an effort to entice consumers to place bets through them. However what it does mean is that most of the top companies can be distinguished by the benefits they offer to consumers and the deals which they advertise - for example “place a £10 bet and received £20 worth of betting credit for free”.
Some of the biggest provider names in the gambling industry include:
If the odds don’t look the same on the surface, consumers will often find that with a little extra calculation they do indeed appear to be virtually identical – for example, one provider may offer 2-1 and another may offer 10-5; different figures but the same level of likelihood.
One of the biggest and most important trends which is playing its part in the growth and development of the gambling industry is the rise in technology and the use of social media and apps as a means of advertising gambling deals and betting odds, driving consumers to make the most of limited time offers, and allowing consumers to place and track bets across a multitude of industries and events from the convenience of one single app or web page. What this does is enable and encourage consumers to bet on things they might otherwise have ignored, using the homepage of gambling sites and apps to market the latest and greatest deals, tracking live results and showing the sheer scale of winnings that active consumers can revel in if they broaden their interest filters and bet on new and exciting occasions and outcomes. If a consumer was to head on to the comparison site Odds Checker, they would find themselves confronted by various deals and free bet offers, dependent on how much they are willing to place as an original bet. The industry then works through essentially getting consumers hooked on winning, with some of the most savvy consumers making streams of small winnings from a wide variety of smaller bets which might earn them a few pounds but which gradually add up to generate bigger profits overall – something which is aided by the plethora of different providers which each market and sell their own discounts and deals.
Not so much a trend but more of an event which sparked a change in the course of gambling and placing bets in the major sporting event world, in 2016 a Leicester City football fan won a huge pay out upon their winning the Premier League, because right at the start of the season he placed a bet that would see them go to the top – an idea which, to most others and to the bookmakers, was so unlikely that it warranted huge odds. They offered him 5000-1, and when the event happened, they were forced to pay out tens of thousands of pounds. Since then, the odds of any team winning the league are now much lower to ensure that the betting provider is not likely to lose too much.
Understanding gambling at its most basic level means understanding both what the odds imply and how they are calculated – and this is where both technology and human intuition are designed to work together to form the most solid opinions based on fact and previous results. The fact is that gambling has become a kind of sport in itself, encouraging consumers to go online or head into betting shops and ask for a specific outcome which can essentially be based on anything. The shop or provider will offer you the odds that they are willing to gamble on what you have proposed, and as long as you agree the terms there and then, and pay your full original stake plus any additional taxes, then a win will not only present you with the profit you have made but will also return your starting bid to you as well. Of course, the odds do change based on intuition and machine-driven data – with the most guaranteed outcomes either not being accepted by the betting provider or else garnering stupidly low odds – for example a betting shop might offer the consumer a bet of 1-100 whereby a £100 bet placed will only generate a £1 if the event does indeed happen.
Another trend which is changing the way that gambling is approached on the mainstream market is the way that betting has become such an intrinsic part of live events and sporting occasions – mainly through the pop up betting stands and shops which sit as part of the overall experience, and which are often a part of the main sponsor board in order to get their name out across as much of the event stadium and marketing material as possible. What this rise in physical betting stands at everyday events shows is that when approached properly, gambling can serve to elevate and pull together a complete experience, encouraging more consumers to engage in the action and raise the stakes for themselves by placing a bet on certain outcomes or eventualities.
And then we have the growing trend of betting shops offering an option for consumers to cash out early if they are on a good streak but are not confident that their exact betting outcome will occur. One of the best examples of this again returns to football, whereby a consumer may place a bet on a team winning 3-0. If, by half time, that team are 2-0 up, the consumer could choose to return to their bet and select the cash out early option, which the provider will see and offer a smaller winning (for example, if they bet 10-1 on the original stake, the new cash out may be offered at 5-1, still giving them a win but this time a much smaller one). What this does is minimise the risk for both the consumer and the provider, giving the consumer a win of sorts and ensuring that the provider doesn’t have to pay out as much).
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