Martin Broughton covets UK Tote; NYRA urges bettors to go online

uk-tote-nyraMartin Broughton, avid racehorse owner and former chairman of the British Horseracing Board, is believed to be the latest prospective bidder for the UK Tote. Broughton’s bid would be made via Sports Investment Partners, the private equity firm Broughton manages with son Michael.

The sale of the state-run betting operation will be conducted by investment bankers Lazard. To ensure its wares doesn’t get left on the shelf, Lazard will sell the Tote’s on-course betting service separately from its 517 retail shops. The government could have sold the Tote in 2006 for £325, but thought it could get a better deal if it held out for a better offer, which must be why the Tote is now expected to realize less than £225. Shrewd.

Expressions of interest in the Tote must be registered by midnight Friday, and Broughton is by no means alone in his (alleged) pursuit of the company. Other bidders are expected to include Sportech, Betfred, Gala Coral as well as Northern Racing’s owners David and Simon Reuben. The Tote’s current management may also make an offer.

Tote chief exec Trevor Beaumont suggested that the government might look kindly on a takeover plan that promises to look after the company’s 4,700 employees as well as the racing industry in general. “The government has been very clear that it’s not necessarily the top price which will be successful.” The Tote turned a profit of £13.3m on turnover of £2.8b in the financial year ending March 31.

Across the pond, the shuttering of the NYC Off-Track Betting shops has the New York Racing Association offering free bus service from Staten Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan to Aqueduct Racetrack. The Association is also urging its customers to sign up with state-regulated online betting sites rather than take their action to international online betting operations.

To encourage New York horse betting fans to leap this digital divide, the NYRA is attempting to streamline the registration process, which currently takes days. Hear that? Mere days! Let that fact be your response the next time some fool tries to tell you that the horse racing industry is mired in the last century.