by Renee Israel
The Football Pools, which have been part of the British gambling
culture since 1923, have crossed the channel and will now be
available to French betting audiences for the first time.
The Football Pools, owned by Sportech, are enjoyed by over half a
million players each week, and it is hoped that by making them
available to players outside of the UK, their popularity will
On Thursday, Sportech said that it had signed a revenue-sharing
deal with France-Pari. This agreement will essentially allow
the French to wager on their own league games, as well as on
English Premier League matches.
This is the first time that The Football Pools have left the
borders of the United Kingdom, except in a number of smaller
countries such as the Seychelles and Mauritius.
Speaking about the new deal, the Chief Executive of Sportech said
that the idea was still experimental and there was no knowing how
French punters would take to the game.
However, he said that Sportech was hopeful that exposure of the
Football Pools to a new audience would breath some life into the
89 year old game.
Drop in Popularity from 1990s
While the Football Pools have a long and rich history in the UK's
gambling history, the number of players of the game have been on a
sharp decline since they 1990's, mostly due to the introduction of
the National Lottery, and the rise in popularity of other types of
gambling, especially online gambling.
Profit for Sportech's Football Pools was flat in the
first six months of 2012 (with a year on year comparison), while
revenue dropped to £21.7 million in the same time period.
Bringing the game to France may be a risk, but is one that
Sportech is hoping will pay off.
"They [the French] love their gaming," said Penrose. "They are
very big on horse racing. There's clearly a good reaction to both
the French leagues and the English Premier League."
Football Pools Offer £3B in Prize Money
Since the Football Pools were first distributed as coupons to
fans outside Manchester United's home ground, Old Trafford in
1923, over 60 million lucky winners have been paid out over
£3 billion in prize money.
In 2010, the The Football Pools celebrated their biggest ever
weekend payout, when £4 million was won by lucky punters.
In addition, over £1.1 billion has been paid out to good
causes, especially sports-orientated organisations. Groups who
benefitted included Every Player Counts, Premier League Health and
Fit for Football, Fit for Life.