|Headquarters||Wigan, Greater Manchester|
|Products||Sports betting, Casino, Games and Bingo.|
|Owner||UK Tote Group (formerly Alizeti Capital)|
Number of employees
The Tote, formerly the Horserace Totalisator Board and called in rhyming slang the nanny, is a British bookmaker with head offices in Wigan. It was owned from its formation in 1928 by the UK Government but was sold to Betfred in July 2011, and later sold to UK Tote Group, formerly Alizeti Capital, in October 2019. Under the brand totesport the Tote had 514 high street betting shops, outlets on most of Britain's 60 racecourses, as well as internet and call centre divisions. The company is known for its pool bets such as the Scoop6, and until July 13, 2008 was the only organisation in the UK that was allowed to run pool betting on horseracing. On July 13, 2018 Colossus Bets among others entered the UK market offering Horse racing (tote) pools also in competition with The Tote.
The Racehorse Betting Control Board was created by the Racecourse Betting Act 1928, as a statutory corporation. It was set up by Winston Churchill as a government-appointed board, with the intention of providing a safe, state-controlled alternative to illegal off course bookmakers and ensuring that some gambling revenues were put back into the sport of horse racing. The first major race meetings with tote betting were the flat race meetings at Newmarket (July Course) and Carlisle on 2 July 1929.
Under the Betting Levy Act 1961 the board was reconstituted as the Horserace Totalisator Board (the Tote), with responsibility for the redistribution of funds to racing transferred to the Horserace Betting Levy Board.
The Tote opened its first high street betting shop in 1972, and has since grown to employ more than 4,000 staff. Tote Direct was set up in 1992 to channel tote bets from other high street bookmakers into tote pools. Now tote betting is accepted in more than 7,000 betting shops across the UK (the majority of which are non-Tote owned shops) as well as via other online gambling websites.
In 1999, the Tote linked up with Channel 4 Racing to introduce the popular Scoop6 bet which involves bettors trying to select the winner of six televised races. This bet produced the first horserace betting millionaire, a feat which has been achieved on several more occasions since. A record single-day turnover, in excess of £4 million, was bet into the Scoop6 pool on 22 November 2008.
The Tote has formal pool betting links from similar organisations in Ireland, Germany, France, Holland, Cyprus, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, the USA and South Africa.
Privatisation was first suggested in 1989 by the then Conservative government following a study by Lloyds Bank into a possible sell off. However, these plans were met with strong opposition from the racing industry and were later abandoned by the then Home Secretary Michael Howard in 1995.
After the 1997 general election Howard's Labour successor Jack Straw launched a fresh study and privatisation of the organisation was made a manifesto commitment in 2001. To enable privatisation the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Act 2004 was passed with the intention of converting the Tote from a statutory corporation to a limited company so that a sale could take place. The then Chancellor Gordon Brown announced plans for privatisation in the 2006 Budget and the Government invited a racing consortium and Tote staff to formally bid for the Tote by 26 January 2007. This bid was successfully submitted but was rejected by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as it was backed by private equity. On 5 March 2008, the Government announced that the Tote would be sold on the open market. However, after an extensive audit, the prevailing financial situation forced the Government to opt to retain the status quo until further notice. On 12 October 2009, Gordon Brown, at that point Prime Minister, announced plans for the sale of the Tote along with a number of other publicly owned assets, although no progress was made before the 2010 general election.
Under the new Coalition government, a competitive bidding process ensued with 18 bidders entering at the first round stage. On 31 January 2011, the government announced that a short-list had been drawn-up for the next round of the process but declined to confirm which bids were on it. There were believed to be five, including Betfred, David and Simon Reuben, Gala Coral Group, Sports Investment Partners led by Sir Martin Broughton and a foundation set up by the existing management, although there were indications of a sixth. Stan James was suggested as this sixth party but declined to comment when asked. In May 2011 it was reported that only two bidders remained in the process, Betfred and Sports Investment Partners. On 3 June 2011, it was confirmed that Betfred had been chosen by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt as the successful bidder, for a reported figure of £265m. The sale process was completed on 13 July 2011.