The bloom may be off betting operator Betfred’s purchase of the Tote as the UK racing industry considers launching a rival pool betting business.
Betfred’s £265m deal for the Tote gave it an exclusive right over race pool betting in the UK until 2018. But the Mail on Sunday reported that major UK racing stakeholders including The Jockey Club and Racecourse Media Group had begun exploring their post-2018 options.
The racing stakeholders have reportedly set up a steering group to consider the possibility of a Tote alternative. The group plans to invite other racing bodies and leading UK bookmakers to join their discussions and talks have already been initiated with potential technology providers and international race betting outfits.
The timing could be coincidental, but the news comes after Betfred boss Fred Done took a typically defiant stance towards racing’s new Authorized Betting Partner (ABP) scheme, which limits racing sponsorship to operators who remit a certain portion of online betting revenue back to racing. In December, Done said relations between betting and racing were “worse than they’ve ever been. There’s no trust.”
The Mail’s sources claimed the push for a Tote alternative wasn’t about revenge, insisting that the stakeholders believed “a racing-owned Tote would return more money to racing as well as revitalize a product which is looking rather old and tired now.”
A Betfred spokesman said the company wasn’t in a position to comment on the report. The company’s purchase of the Tote required it to remit £9m per year back to racing, a sum the company says it routinely exceeds by as much as 50% each year.