Hi, "football pools" are very popular (or at least they used to be) in the UK.
Here is a brief description:
The most common form of pool betting in Britain is the football pools. Football pools work on the basis of a points system. Most points are awarded for score draws, then no-score draws and then a win. The weekly pools coupon lists forty-nine future football matches. Football pools are often collected by door-to door collectors and submitted by post.
In the U.S., these football pools are usually organized by fellow employees, in my experience, and are sometimes accompanied by big parties on the day of the game. The money involved can be considerable. I know of one office where the "pool" is several thousand dollars. I've never heard of a door-to-door football pool organizer. It's almost always either a friend or a officemate.
Technically, I believe it's illegal here, but I've never heard of any problems with it. It's as much a social event as it is gambling.
...an old woman goes door-to-door collecting "football pools money".
Based on that sentence, I'm 99% sure that it refers to the kind of football pools described in my above post.
These kind of pools are traditionally very popular in many European countries (in Spain they are called "quinielas", as far as I know), but as football is not popular in the USA, I guess they are not played there.
Yes, I remember the days of "doing the pools" as it was called.
It was a nationwide pastime, a chance to win big money for a very small stake, organised by one or two huge companies.
Here is a picture of an anonymous football pools coupon.
The appointed agent would call at people's homes to collect their completed coupon for the coming Saturday's matches, along with the stake money, and leave a fresh coupon for the following Saturday.
In later years (due to football pools money-collectors being mugged) entries had to be sent in by post and paid with either a cheque or postal order. Pools coupons could be picked up in newsagents' shops.
There is scope for misunderstanding here.
What JamesM describes - the office "pool" is normally called a sweepstake (BE). Prizes are typically quite small. JamesM's thousands is big money for one of these.
A football pools win used to be millions - because there were so many participants right across the country.
Agreed. I'm sorry if I misled anyone. I was simply talking about our "version" of football pools. We don't have anything like what you describe. You can make bets on games in state-sanctioned betting parlors in many states, but that is placing a bet, not purchasing a ticket.
Curiously, our names are reversed. An official, impersonal pool of money would be called a "Sweepstakes", and an unofficial, local one would be called a "pool". More potential for confusion.
No bother, JamesM
Sweepstakes here could also be quite big, but usually because the entry fee is high rather than because the number of participants is high.
I bet there is a UK gambler around to contradict everything I've said so far