The gambling history of the UK can be traced back to the late 1600s. International trade mainly contributed to the introduction of gambling in the country. At the time, most wagers were placed on card games. However, gambling did not grow so much because of the strong religious belief in the country.
During the 1700s, horse racing started to gain popularity in the UK. Racetracks were constructed, and horse racing became an official sport. That led to punters beginning to place wagers on the racing events.
Several bookmakers emerged, offering betting odds for all the different participating horses. Harry Ogden was the first bookmaker to offer odds. At the time, he based odds on the body shape or physique of the horses. He later inserted a profit margin in the odds he provided, which helped ensure the gambling operation's profits and sustainability.
During the early 1800s, there were still no regulations on betting in the UK. Betting became a bit risky for bookmakers, especially those who offered the services away from the tracks. It did not take long before malpractice cases crept into the industry since there was no authority to regulate them.
Debt collectors also came about, hired by the bookies to collect from punters who could not pay after losing wagers. The disagreements got so bad that they resulted in several deaths at some point.
In 1845, a betting act was passed by the Victorian reign. The act was meant to minimize the disagreements between punters and bookies, stating that wagers would not be considered authorized contracts. The act did not change much as gambling addiction was already high among the people. In 1853, another regulation was passed, which prohibited homes from hosting any gambling activities. That resulted in punters turning back to the horse tracks to satisfy their betting needs.
Betting was limited to horse racing for quite a long time until the 1900s. In 1923, soccer pools were also introduced by bookies. Greyhound racing followed in 1926, with many other sports joining later on. In 1960, a betting act was passed, requiring all bookmakers to offer their services respectably to the public. The bookies only needed to follow all the gambling rules laid out to become fully recognizable in the country.