britbet, the pool betting operation backed by most of the UK’s racecourses, has agreed to a ‘Standstill Arrangement’ with the incumbent Tote ahead of the existing Tote exclusivity licence ending on 12 July in order to allow ‘further time to explore opportunities to collaborate’.
The deal means that in the short term, the punter will notice no difference as the Tote brand will remain the racing pools provider at the country’s racecourses and beyond with no changes to its liquidity. The two operators say that the arrangement will provide the opportunity to develop a long-term partnership to ensure there is a single pool betting operation for British racing which is in the best interests of the sport.
britbet was due to take over the pool betting operations at all but two racecourses on 12 July as the seven year monopoly granted to Betfred on the acquisition of the Tote expired, but the agreement to enter into extended discussions has altered plans. britbet will continue upgrading technology and hardware across the 55 racecourses, along with the ongoing transfer of staff from Betfred to britbet, but the existing Tote brand will now remain on racecourses rather than the new britbet branding.
Neil Goulden, Chairman of britbet, explained: “The britbet vision has always been very clear, namely to maximise the guaranteed investment for our partner racecourses and to ensure the racecourses take control of the technology pathway, product presentation and customer engagement on our courses to improve the entire pool betting landscape.
“With those principles secured, we are able to explore ways in which we may be able to work with an invigorated Tote to deliver the best product and service for our racecourse partners and ultimately for racegoers. This agreement is clearly aligned with our “by racing, for racing” proposition and, thanks to the hard work of the britbet Board and team, I am delighted that we have secured those key aspects which now enable us to consider ways of working in partnership with others.”
Fred Done, Founder and CEO of Betfred, said: “This is a significant step in the right direction for the future of the Tote and I look forward to seeing the continuation of the hard work and achievements Betfred have made in the seven years of our ownership.”
Alex Frost, Chief Executive of Alizeti Capital and 25% stakeholders in the Tote, said: “I would like to thank Neil and the Britbet board for the immensely collaborative and positive manner in which discussions have taken place. Our team will continue to work with the britbet team to ensure the best outcome for the sport in the months and years ahead. As Together for the Tote we are committed to securing racing’s finances for generations to come through a revitalised Tote.”
The danger with the introduction of another pool betting operation in competition with the traditional Tote is that the resultant loss in liquidity would lead to two weak horseracing pools rather than one strong one. The extending of discussions suggest that both parties are willing to discuss matters more realistically than perhaps has been the case in the past.