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The Tote – All About the Company

Author: Neha Agrawal

Everybody that has ever placed a wager on the nags (horses) will have heard of the Tote. Tote horse racing bets are hugely popular in the United Kingdom, though not a lot of other sports bettors or gamblers in general are familiar with this name.

For instance, did you know that Tote is actually a company? The Tote used to be known as the Horserace Totalisator Board. Today it is known simply as The Tote and has its headquarters in Wigan. Recently, The Tote was acquired by Betfred, who purchased in the summer of 2011 from the government of the United Kingdom.

The Tote was formed in 1928 by the United Kingdom’s government. Created as the Racehorse Betting Control Board, it was set up by one Mr. Winston Churchill, a name that will be synonymous with most people in the world. The objective of The Tote was to provide a secure and legitimate alternative to betting on horses with illegal bookies, the likes of which many had surfaced during that period. The first Tote races were held in Carlisle and Newmarket (yes, the famous horse racing ground) in summer 1929.

The name of Horserace Totalisator Board came about in 1961 when the board was rebranded, and the very first high street Tote shop opened up a short while later in 1972. Today, The Tote has over five hundred and fourteen betting shops situated throughout the United Kingdom. In 1992, The Tote created Tote Direct which permitted Tote bets to be taken in many other betting shops in the United Kingdom, which has grown today to include some seven thousand betting offices.

In 1999, the Scoop 6 was brought into play through a deal with Tote and Channel 4 (who have long shown horse racing as part of their programming). The new bet involved betting on the winners of the six televised races the channel broadcast.

In more recent times, The Tote has since joined forces with similar betting organisations in Ireland, Germany, Holland, South Africa and the United States of America.

In 2009 then Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans to sell The Tote as part of a clear out scheme. No deal was struck until the Coalition Government came to power in 2010. By 2011 Betfred and Sports Invesment Partners were the only two horses in the race (no pun intended!). Betfred eventually won the battle, and purchased the total for a fee believed to be around two hundred and sixty five million pounds.

Today the Tote is as popular as ever and provides many horse racing fanatics with a viable alternative to betting in the bookies, just as it set out to do eighty four years ago.