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Betting: Online Versus High Street

By: Shaun Parker

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Betting has changed beyond recognition in recent years. No longer does the punter have to glance over his shoulder before an ignominious entry into a seedy, back-street shop, passing through a plastic dangly curtain, window screened against curious eyes, to join shady characters, peering through the smoke, eyeing pinned up back pages from the tabloids in a furtive effort to decipher the winner of the next horse or greyhound race.

Failed slips crunched underfoot. Scratch a prediction on a scrap of paper and queue anxiously at the window; come on, come on, hurry up and serve me before the race starts. In those days in-shop televisions were banned to discourage us from entering these places of sin and thus falling by the wayside.

No chairs or other luxuries were allowed and always, the same scratchy trackside voice declared our fate through a speaker on the wall. This was a guilt ridden world where women were unheard of and the sensitive turned up their collars and pulled down their hats to find anonymity.

And then suddenly it all changed. With the advent of online sports betting an informed world was opened up for us to conduct our betting in the civilised and comfortable surroundings of our own homes while providing instant access to statistics, inside stories, previous results, gossip and anything else that reinforces the conviction that one result is more likely than another. Friends can even join us to merge ideas, prophecies and share the excitement of it all.

But it's not just about horses and hounds these days. A sporting muscle can barely be flexed anywhere on the planet without online betting sites offering odds on the outcome of its effort. The results of football, tennis, golf, athletics, Gaelic football and bog-snorkelling events - well, maybe not bog-snorkelling - or any other sporting activity, almost anywhere in the world, can be gambled on with the ease of the click of a button.

Beyond sporting events you can predict the winner of Big Brother, the Booker prize or the next President of the United States. If casino gambling is your cup of tea then any number of poker, backgammon and other such games are in abundance online.

In those seemingly pre-historic times it was only the winner who was the target of our attention. Nowadays we can mull over who will score the most runs, which bowler will get the most wickets or the first wicket, will Owen be the first to score, how many goals will Rooney get, in which position Hamilton will finish or in which round Calghesi will be declared the winner.

Gone now are the days when your betting has to be planned. No more trips out in the rain with nowhere to park the car. Now the merest whim to place a bet can be satisfied in moments on any one of hundreds of sites vying for your attention.

Many offer free bets as an inducement and, if you wonder where to start. Betting websites will guide you to the right place. Then all you need is your own shrewd good judgement and a little touch of luck to help you on your way.

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