Basketball’s Rise To Mainstream Betting In The UK

July 24, 2020

- Grant Whittington

It’s no secret that Basketball, at least not traditionally speaking, isn’t quite as popular a betting market among UK punters as what it is in the US. In fact, up until fairly recently, Basketball wasn’t really considered a main-stream favourite anywhere outside of the US.

But this all changed, interestingly enough, when the US in 2018 legalised betting on professional and amateur sports. Even though we’re referring here to two very different, completely separate countries, evidence strongly suggests that increased acceptance of betting on sports in the US has been having a progressive ripple effect on several other major sports betting markets.

And in the UK market, the sport slowly clawing its way into the mainstream sports betting limelight, just so happens to be Basketball.

The History Of Betting

Sports betting in the UK became legal as far back as during the 1960s. The industry has admittedly experienced its fair share of ups and downs since then, but nothing significant or notable enough to cause any major disruptions. The Gambling Act of 2005 eventually completely liberated the UK’s booming sports betting market, turning it eventually into one of the most successful world markets in sports betting history.

The rise of online wagering on sports has seen several new licensed online players enter the field. Each regulated, licensed and kept duly in check by the UK Gambling Commission, online bookies today are more mindful of a fair gambling environment and proper player protection than ever before.

And it’s a commitment to fair play that has without a doubt paved the way for more sports than ever before to enter into the local sports betting equation.

The US Boom

The US has of course seen its own share of success following the abolishment of the ban on sports betting by the US Supreme Court in 2018. At present, at least 18 states have fully legalised sports betting, with four more having also legalised online sports betting.

The decision by the Supreme Court almost immediately opened a whole new world of commercial opportunities – off as well as on the sports field. Which brings us to Basketball’s own rise to fame in a country traditionally only interested in sports native to its own region, i.e. cricket, rugby, football, and field hockey.

Granted, Basketball remains a sport almost looked down upon by some of England’s stauncher sports fans. Committed to “reserved” gentlemanly sports such as cricket and tennis, Basketball remains to sum an overly liberal letting it all hang out type of sport.

But there’s another side to all of this. And that side is a little thing called “street cred” – mostly brought about by the sport having progressively been making its way into the often “deprived” inner-city estates of London. The result has been that of people falling in love with Basketball from a very young age – much like what has been the norm in the US for literally decades.

The Spark That Ignites

And obviously, all sports present players and athletes with uncommon and unprecedented opportunities to change lives. But since Basketball is as affordable a sport to learn and play as they come, with the only equipment necessary being a ball and a hoop among an entire bunch of young players, it does seem to be leading the “new way”.

Basketball’s slow rise to prominence hasn’t exactly been expediated by Sport England’s attitude toward funding initiatives focused on Basketball in particular. In fact, Basketball for a very long time remained grossly underfunded compared to some other sports aided by Sport England.

But change has come to the UK. And change is nearly never a bad thing.

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