Day At The Track

UK Tote prepares for human sport wager

08:10 AM 07 Dec 2020 NZDT
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In an attempt to lessen their dependency on bob-tailed nags, the pari-mutuel betting company behind the UK Tote is preparing to start taking wagers on human sports.

Sky News announced on Friday that the UK Tote Company had received £ 20m from current investors in new equity. The money will be used in part to finance a diversification plan that will see a new football betting division set up by the race betting operator early next year.

For the well-heeled people behind Alizeti Capital, which acquired the Tote from former owners Betfred last year a Tote spokesman stated that responding to “new opportunities… remains a key priority.”

Alizeti includes important racing personalities, including owners of racehorses, breeders, trainers and jockeys. The CEO of the UK Tote Group is Alex Frost, a former trader for Merril Lynch, who in September accepted accountant John Williamson as chairman of Tote.

The Tote spokesman said the new prospects on the horizon at present include “being able to expand into other sports” and introducing the Tote to a wider base of sports fans who have yet to succumb to the charms of pool betting. Although the Tote is said to be doing fine, there seems to be a growing consensus that it is no longer an advisable strategy to throw all the eggs into one basket.

UK race betting has failed to recover from a series of pandemic constraints that forced racing with no punters in the stands behind closed doors. In October, GVC Holdings sold its on-course bookmaking operations in the UK and Ireland, which GVC said handled “minuscule” betting handles.

Under strict health and safety precautions, UK racetracks in some pandemic regional ‘tiers’ welcomed back a small number of spectators this week. But the Jockey Club recently reported that with the damage bleeding into 2021, the pandemic will likely reduce its 2020 revenue by £ 90 million as well.

In October, the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) announced that over the first four months of 2021, it will continue its “significantly increased support” for racing. From January through April, the HBLB spent nearly £ 32m, with nearly £ 7m in additional regulatory grants and another £ 650k to manage pandemic protocol-related costs.

HBLB Chairman Paul Darling, however, cautioned that this level of funding… is beyond the short-term unsustainable. Darling encouraged stakeholders in racing and betting to “work together on future plans” as contributions return to normal levels.

Last month at the end of the year the Arena Racing Company waived entry fees for fighting on-course bookies on all tracks that were allowed to admit spectators. ARC further promised to see what help the declining number of on-course bookmakers in 2021 could provide.

 
 
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