Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Origin of the Spanish Football Pools

Boletos de La Quiniela JJ Merelo, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of us dream that we win the lottery and we can fulfil several dreams at the same time: travel to that special place, buy a little house on the beach, help our family ... This hope is what motivates us to find a couple of coins to buy a ticket, while we wait for the goddess Fortuna to smile on us. You may be lucky and a jackpot will solve some of your problems. But there is another option within the Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (State Lotteries and Gambling), La Quiniela, the favourite way of betting for soccer lovers in Spain.

What is the origin of the Quiniela?

The Quiniela (Spanish Football Pools) is a game of chance and prediction, in which you bet on the results of the main soccer matches in our country (so far, so familiar). 

There is some controversy about the official origin of the Quiniela. Although the public administrations determine that the 46/47 season was the first (dated September 22). Soccer had been rooted in Spain for many years and there were similar bets in many taverns and clubs throughout the national territory. Even so, the first official Quiniela was already quite successful, selling more than 38,000 tickets on the first day. At a cost of 2 pesetas per ticket, almost 80,000 pesetas were collected (about 460 euros today). 9,603 pesetas (€55) were for two first category winners, 7202 (€43) for the only second category winner and 4801 (€29) for another single, third category winner.

In these first years, 45% of the proceeds were used to pay the prizes obtained, another 45% was donated to charities and the remaining 10% covered the administrative and distribution expenses of the Patronage of Mutual Sports-Charity Betting.

It was not until 1948, a couple of seasons later, that the classic 1-X-2 system was implemented; and before it was necessary to hit the exact number of goals for each team. Until today, after more than 70 years in operation, the general rules have not changed much and the traditional 1-X-2 is still used to meet the winners.

How to play La Quiniela

The first thing to note is that, like any bet, the participant must have reached the age of majority to play. From there, you can make pools of practically any sport, but football is the one that is most popular.

Today we find a ticket in which the 15 most important teams at national level are represented. The ten of the First Division and five of the most prominent of the Second Division are included (or nine and six or even eight and seven, depending on the day). You mark the corresponding boxes depending on whether you believe that the home team (1), the visitor (2) will win or they will be tied (X).

The days in which there are international matches, the ticket is completed with the eleven Second Division matches and four between countries: the one played by the Spanish National Team and three others of great importance.

The current prizes of La Quiniela

Unlike what we mentioned previously, today up to 55% of the sales proceeds are allocated to the winners' prizes. There are five categories and a special extra for the player who gets all the 14 matches in a column and the so-called ‘Pleno al 15’.

  • Special category - 14 right plus the full fifteen: 7.5% of the pot *
  • First category - 14 right: 16% of the pot
  • Second category - 13 right: 7.5% of the pot
  • Third category - 12 right: 7.5% of the pot
  • Fourth category - 11 right: 7.5% of the pot
  • Fifth category - 10 right: 9% of the pot

If there were no winners in any of the main categories, that award goes to the next category. If none of them are successful, it accumulates as a jackpot for the following day. The same goes for the special category, which is set aside for the next game if no one hits it.

The highest prizes have a special tax that must be paid to the Treasury, but that only applies to amounts greater than 40,000 euros. This is 20%, the first 40,000 euros of profit being excluded from this tax. For example, if we obtained a prize of €45,000, we would only pay 20% of the 5,000 that exceed the previous figure: €1,000, keeping the remaining €44,000.

Now you know practically everything about La Quiniela, it may be a good time to prepare for the next matches. You can play at your usual kiosk or online (even in English), in addition to playing other games of chance to have fun (responsibly). [NB: I trawled through the rules (PDF) and could not find any mention of whether you can or can't play from abroad.]