The government-owned operator of horse-race pool wagering has been acquired by U.K.-based bookmaker Betfred for the sum of £265 million.
The BBC reported that Betfred will assume the Tote’s monopoly on pool betting at 60 U.K. racetracks, as well as the online product. The new owner will rebrand the Tote’s 517 retail outlets with the Betfred name.
The horse-racing industry will receive £90 million from the sale.
Betfred has exclusive control of the pool betting system at U.K. tracks for seven years. In return, it will pay the racing industry £11 million by March 2012, with payments of £9 million a year for the next six years.
There is some concern that the way money will now be distributed could threaten the future of some tracks.
Racing journalist Neil Clark told the BBC, “We’ve got 60 racetracks. What happens is the Tote basically subsidizes the smaller tracks because the money the Tote makes on any particular day is shared between all the tracks.
“That’s under threat, so I fear that in, say, 10 years’ time, we’ll have a sort of Premier League system and some of the smaller tracks will close down, which would be a great shame.”
Barry Nightingale, finance director at Betfred, said his company is committed to the industry for the long term.
“We’re investing in the Tote, we’re going to be engaging with racing to create a lasting legacy and we will be involved in running the Tote for a long, long time,” said Nightingale.