As its political stand-off with Great Britain dominates the media agenda, it’s somewhat strange to realise that in three short months, Russia will be the obsession of these islands for entirely different reasons.
From 14 June to 15 July, it will be the FIFA World Cup that fills the waking thoughts of many of your punters and, with a schedule that fits in well with pub opening times, it’s time to start planning ways to crank the excitement up a few additional notches.
Take a look at the first three games in the tournament and you’ll see why generating that early enthusiasm might be a good idea. It’s unlikely the customers will be flooding in to watch the hosts take on Saudi Arabia in the opener and while Liverpool’s venues might attract a few Mohamed Salah fans for Egypt v Uruguay in match 2 on 15 June, Morocco v Iran later on the same day won’t set the hearts racing in advance.
It’s fair to say that, for many people, a little flutter adds to the attraction of an otherwise meaningless match. So why not tie people to watching the games on your screens with a sweepstake?
The sweepstake, in its most simple form, is the easy option. Place each of the 32 teams in a hat or pint glass and ask customers to pay a set amount for a team. You’ll need to gauge your audience to decide what that amount should be.
To create interest, there needs to be the chance of winning a reasonable sum, so we’d suggest a low bar at £5 per team and a high of £10. Remember, under the customer lottery rules which relate to sweepstakes and which pubs must adhere to, all proceeds from ticket sales must be spent on prizes and the value of the largest prize that can be awarded must not exceed £50.
Find somewhere prominent in the venue to display the teams and their ‘owners’ and decide how you’re going to divide the prize money. You could, for example, reward the winners as follows:
- Prize pool: 32 x £10 = £320
- Winner: £50
- Runner-up: £45
- Third place: £40
- Fourth place: £35
- Losing quarter finalists: £30 each
- Wooden spoon winner: £30
That’s a nice few pints and something to eat for anyone who’s entered.
Once you get to the semi-final stage, try and involve the holders of the tickets even more and try to bring the contest to a grand finale in your pub, as well as the Russian stadiums.
There are lots of ways you can spice up a sweepstake and create some fun and competitive rivalry at the bar:
- Offer the person who own teams a free drink at half time on every night that their country plays. Wait until half time to ensure they stay until the end, even if their team is losing
- Give them a free drink on the final whistle, but only if their team wins
- You could reward the unlucky loser in some way if their team is beaten by more than two goals, or once the tournament reaches the knock-out stages, if their team gets knocked out on penalties
- Theme some of the more obvious games to attract customers and make the sweepstake team holder a star of the show – Spain v Portugal on the opening weekend is an obvious candidate and there are plenty more if you glance through the fixtures
If you want to create more than one sweepstake, or just be a bit different, you could quite easily devise a game around the players, rather than the teams.
Don’t forget the same prize money rules apply, but in addition you can only make one sweepstake draw in any seven-day period. Because of that it is best to restrict this competition to the group stages only, as those matches finish a fortnight before the final eventually takes place, after which you will present the team sweepstake prizes.
Here’s how it might work:
- Pick one of the mainstream World Cup fantasy league games that will pop up in the national media once the tournament gets closer
- Select the two strikers/forwards from each of the 32 teams with the highest value attributed to them in the chosen fantasy league game
- Sell off these 64 players to customers in exactly the same way as you would have done with the team sweepstake
- Display this information in the pub and after each game that a player has appeared in, update with the number of points they have accrued in the fantasy league game – this will typically include goals and assists, but depending on which league you decided to follow, it may also include star-man ratings and minus points for transgressions, so make sure you let the customers know what they are buying into before you sell tickets
- Decide how you are going to award prize money for the top scorers, but remember the rules that apply to prize limits.
You could offer side rewards for punters if their player scores twice or nets a hat-trick, or a consolatory prize if they get sent off and they are in the venue to watch the game.
While it’s obvious to think that world stars like Messi or Ronaldo are bound to be the highest scorers, it’s worth remembering that lesser known strikers including Miroslav Klose, Oleg Salenko and Salvatore Schillaci have won the World Cup’s fabled golden ball in the past 30 years.
And as the points scoring involves more than goals, it’s just possible that the tournament’s top scorer won’t be your top scorer, if you see what we mean!
Whatever you decide to do, commit to it, make it a big part of your venue’s offer throughout the tournament and keep the buzz going by constantly updating the information on your display.
Wherever possible, include the winners and losers in the fun and make a big deal of presenting the prizes at the end of each sweepstake. After all, it’s not just the taking part that counts, is it?