Just Like the Lottery? Player Behaviour and Anomalies in the Market for Football Pools
Football pools were an antecedent to lotto in providing a long-odds, high-prize gambling opportunity for a mass market in Europe. Even after lotto has become well established, pools games continue to occupy a significant niche in the gaming market in several jurisdictions, most notably Spain. This paper employs 23 years of sales data from the national pools game in Spain to investigate similarities between the behaviour of lotto players and pools players. It observes similar phenomena as have been noted in lotto sales studies, including strong sensitivity of sales to the size of jackpot on offer, significant habit effects, a halo effect whereby there is some short-term persistence in increased sales whenever a high jackpot is offered (even after jackpot size has returned to normal), and a tendency to jackpot fatigue (over time, the size of the jackpot has to be increased to more than before to stimulate the same increase in sales). Notwithstanding that the football pools are marketed as based on knowledge and understanding of sport whereas lotto is a pure numbers game, modelling sales of the pools therefore yields findings very similar to those reported in the literature on lotto. This suggests that both sets of players share common psychological and cognitive traits and economic motivation. Those responsible for promoting pools should therefore be able to draw on findings from the much more extensive literature on lotto when formulating strategy in terms of game design and marketing.
KeywordsFootball pools Jackpot Addiction Conscious selection Halo effect Prize fatigue Lotto fever
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