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Betting on sports matches is a very old phenomenon. The first wagers of which evidence has been found date back to the time of the Greek city-states. That means these bets are therefore at least 2,000 years old. How did soccer betting originate?

The ancient Greeks

The ancient Greeks were known as sports enthusiasts, so major sporting events such as the Olympic, Corinthian and Delphic Games were popular matters for betting. Later, the Romans adopted this trait from the Greeks. Among the Romans, fights between gladiators were a particularly popular affair to bet their money on.


Throughout history, betting on sports matches became especially popular in England, but people in many other parts of Europe were also very interested in betting. Although the authorities often tried to ban betting on sports matches, the love for betting has endured to this day. Today there is also extensive legalization, although sports casino software still attracts a certain amount of crime. Legalization is thus very necessary, especially since betting has become very accessible all over the world thanks to the advent of the Internet.

The TOTO in the Netherlands

When it comes to soccer, the history of the toto stands out in particular. The toto is derived from the word "totalisator," which is the automated system used to calculate the payouts of the results. The origins of the toto more or less coincide with the birth of professional soccer in the Netherlands. The soccer toto started in 1956 and was organized at the time by the KNVB. Initially, the toto functioned as a pool organized by the clubs affiliated with the KNVB. It was therefore necessary at the time to be a member of the national soccer association in order to participate in the toto.

Amendments to the Lottery Act

The toto was also closely monitored by the authorities. The Ministry of Justice wanted to ban the tote, but an amendment to the Lottery Act in 1960 made it possible to maintain the tote legally. From then on, responsibility for the toto fell to De Nationale Sporttotalisator. The KNVB did continue to benefit from these national bets, as a significant portion of the proceeds benefited the soccer association.

Toto form

In the early stages of the toto, it was only possible to predict the results of duels in Dutch professional soccer. The toto was thus limited to the Eredivisie and the Eerste Divisie (the current Jupiler League), later it also became possible to bet on matches from foreign leagues. The predictions were entered on a form, the toto forms were sold in the past mostly at cigar stores. The toto still exists, but during the 1980s the face of this phenomenon changed.

In the 1980s, the prize money of the toto declined significantly. This happened because the toto faced a lot of competition from the arrival of other lotteries, for example the Lotto.


With the advent of online betting, the face of betting on soccer matches changed completely. The Internet has made it possible to bet your money on soccer matches in many different ways. Of course, many websites are safe to bet your money, but gambling traditionally attracts crime. Consequently, the field of operation of scammers has largely shifted to the Internet. However, the toto - which can also be entered online these days - is still known as a safe way to wager money, but not nearly as profitable as other online providers.

New legislation: better alternatives to TOTO

Today, there are also multiple variants of the toto, such as market leaders MrGreen and Betsson, as well as Unibet. Especially those who follow soccer intensively, online bookmakers stand a much better chance of bigger winnings due to the increased quotations. Meanwhile, the current TOTO can no longer keep up with the online offer and the Dutch are switching en masse to the online alternatives. Therefore, the government is again coming up with renewed legislation regulating online offerings starting in 2017.

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