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Sports betting has been here for such a long time that nobody really remembers when it first started, but only now is the industry going through such a meteoric rise that it is actually becoming an economic force to be reckoned with. In fact, it is now estimated that online sports betting alone is worth somewhere between $74 to $100 billion, with the entire industry currently standing somewhere between $700 to $1000 billion, a sum roughly equal to the GDP of the Netherlands!

The craze has officially started in the year of 1996 with the launch of the very first online bookmaker called Intertops - and the Americans wagered about $60 billion online in the very same year. In 1998, William Hill became the first UK bookmaker to go online, starting a landslide that eventually forced everyone to launch an online platform - Paddy Power were the last major off-line force to join in 2004, with the launch of Betfair sandwiched in-between these events in 2000.

It's not only the big bookmakers who have profited from all this, however, as punters are now enjoying services previously unheard of - not only is the competition so big that they can choose from hundreds of bookmakers, but the online platform has also given rise to features like deposit bonuses, in-play betting, and cash out options.

The recent history of sports betting also has its fair share of strange and unfortunate stories, however. In many countries, online betting has become an oft-debated issue, with the United States passing the controversial UIGEA bill in 2006, hindering the rise of online betting in the U.S., but not exactly stopping it altogether. Nowadays, it appears that a process of legalization is underway in many states, as the possible revenues just cannot be ignored.

The availability of online sports betting has also made match fixing easier and more profitable than ever before, with careful estimates suggesting that the illegal markets amounts to around $306 billion and with Europol investigating around 380 high-level European matches for being fixed.

If you would like to learn more about the history of sports betting, we definitely recommend this timeline by the online casino portal That there is much more to come in the near future is certain - the only uncertain thing is what turns the developments are going to take.