Mark McGuiness, The Football Pools: “We have some amazing activities planned to mark our 100th birthday”

Mark McGuiness, head of marketing and casino at The Football Pools.
Mark McGuiness, head of marketing and casino at The Football Pools.

Mark McGuiness, head of marketing and casino, sat down with Focus Gaming News to talk about the upcoming 100th anniversary of The Football Pools.

Exclusive interview.- The Football Pools is about to reach a new milestone in its long history as it is about to turn 100 years old.  

To talk about it, Focus Gaming News sat down with Mark McGuiness, head of marketing and casino, who also explained how the company continues expanding its offering to provide modern experiencies to its players. 

For a gambling brand to be celebrating its 100th birthday is an incredible achievement. Where did it all start for The Football Pools? 

Our story dates back to 1923 when The Football Pools was born in a small office in Liverpool, England. It was originally called the Littlewoods Football Pools and was started by three friends who each invested £50 of their own money to print the first run of 4,000 coupons which were distributed outside of Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground. 

But it was the entrepreneurial spirit of one of the trio, John Moores, that drove the business on to become the largest football pools operator the world has ever seen. At its height, more than 14 million people played The Pools each week, staking in excess of £50m. 

In the 100 years since the first coupons were handed out, playing The Pools has become a tradition for generations of families, and we have paid out billions of pounds to players. 

The world has changed so much over the past century. How has The Pools ensured that it provides the betting experiences that modern players are seeking? 

Over the years we have expanded our offering beyond our traditional jackpot games to include a comprehensive sportsbook and online casino. The Football Pools is home to our portfolio of score draw games including Classic Pools where players are in with the chance of scooping a £3m top prize. 

Customers can play-as-you-go or subscribe so they never miss an opportunity to play their favourite numbers. The Pools is where players can access our sportsbook and casino as well as lottery betting and instant win scratch cards. This allows us to cater to fans of the Classic Pools game that we have built our name on, while also providing sports betting and online casino via a brand that players know they can trust.

It goes without saying that both brands offer a compelling player experience across desktop and mobile – we have been pursuing a digital transformation strategy for several years now and our leading mobile gambling product has been key to ensuring that we not only meet but exceed player expectations now and in the future. 

What sort of players engage with your Classic Pools games? 

Classic Pools has a large and growing audience of online and mobile players which skews a little younger than more traditional Pools players. Regardless of audience age and demographic, there are really two types of Pools players – those that analyse the Head-to-Head statistics from previous matches to identify those that may result in a score draw and other players that prefer to use their favourite numbers as the means to select the possible matches that might end in the score draw result. 

To ensure Classic Pools games appeal to the next generation of players, we have developed a game interface that is fast, intuitive and mobile-friendly. We have two versions of the game presentation with one being just selecting numbers and the other being the detailed H-2-H game fixture view to meet both player preferences. 

“we have developed a game interface that is fast, intuitive and mobile-friendly.”

Mark McGuiness, head of marketing and casino at The Football Pools.

The UK government is currently reviewing its 2005 Gambling Act with many changes afoot. Does this benefit The Football Pools in any way? 

As a holder of a Gambling Commission licence, The Football Pools and The Pools will ensure we are compliant with any regulatory changes that come into force. But I do believe that our Classic Pools games, with their low stakes and big prizes, will increasingly appeal to players especially given the current state of the global economy. 

I also think that the regulator prefers games such as these as they provide more casual gameplay while still giving players the chance to scoop life-changing prizes. 

Our brand power will also help – in challenging times, people often look back on happier times and seek out familiar experiences, and The Football Pools is tremendously nostalgic in that regard. 

What have you got in store for the rest of your centenary season? 

We have some amazing activities planned to mark our 100th birthday, one of which was the appointment of the new Pools Panel. This included football legend Michael Owen and its first-ever female expert, former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis. Michael is also the face of a major promotional campaign that we are running with our brilliant affiliate partners. 

We are giving away 10,000 free entries into our Classic Pools game, which has a £3m jackpot up for grabs every week as well as an enhanced £350,000 prize pot. Delivering a successful product for a century is no mean feat, so we want to celebrate in style during the season ahead. 

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