The UK Tote Group, the consortium of racing-backed investors formerly known as Alizeti, has revealed that it will begin a ‘new era for the Tote’ after confirming the completion of its acquisition of the UK’s pool betting operator for horse racing, making the group the sole owner.
Outlining its plans for brand development, the Group has placed a particular focus upon the modernisation of the 90-year old British racecourse institution which will include the launch of a new Tote website and the return of Tote Ten to Follow in a new modern format.
Alex Frost, UK Tote Group Chief Executive, commented: “Today marks the start of an exciting new era for the Tote. Pool betting plays a leading role in racing jurisdictions around the world and we believe the Tote can play a similar role in the UK, while supporting and growing British racing in the years ahead. I would like to personally thank Fred Done and his team at Betfred for their invaluable help over the last 18 months.
“I would also like to recognise and thank all those across the industry who have been instrumental in our journey to acquire the Tote. We have received tremendous encouragement and support from owners, trainers, breeders, racecourses and those in the administration of the sport, for which we are enormously grateful.”
In addition to contributing to the Horserace Betting Levy, the UK Tote Group has confirmed that it has signed a new agreement Britbet which will operate the Tote across 55 British racecourses, taking over ownership from Betfred. It is expected that this will see the Tote contribute a minimum of £50 million to the sport over the next seven years.
Frost continued: “Our partnership with Britbet and its member racecourses is now well established, and we look forward to working even more closely with Neil Goulden, Nigel Roddis and the Britbet team to deliver an innovative and enhanced pool betting experience across the Britbet racecourses.
“We also look forward to continuing to operate the pool at Ascot Racecourse for Bet with Ascot and building on the success of World Pool earlier this year with them and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who will continue to be one of our most important commingling partners from the strategic perspective of the Tote’s global connectivity.
“The racing world has huge respect for British racing and we are very optimistic about its future. As the new stewards of this iconic British institution, we are focused on remaining true to the founding principles of the Tote, while modernising the business to secure its future relevance.”
This morning’s update sees Betfred close its association with the Tote, an asset the bookmaker acquired through a 2011 UK government auction for £265 million. It had been reported earlier this month that Betfred was expected to continue to manage the Tote’s services for the next 12 months.
Fred Done, Founder and Chief Executive of Betfred, added: “Through our ownership of the Tote we have made a significant contribution to racing over the last eight years. We wish Alex Frost and his team all the best and they have been very fair to deal with.”
Neil Goulden, Chairman of Britbet, which will now operate the pool betting outlets across 55 British racecourses said: “We welcome today’s news which provides clarity on the future of the Tote. We look forward to continuing to work with the UK Tote Group team to deliver the innovation and investment that will allow pool betting to flourish and, in turn, serve the sport we love. Along with the new technology we have rolled out across the 55 Britbet racecourses since July last year, today’s news gives us the scope to develop the racecourse experience for customers.”
The UK Tote Group, formerly known as Alizeti, has undergone a major management reshuffle in the last 18 months in its bid to revamp its retail and digital offering as well as pursuing ‘ambitious growth plans.’
The consortium is said to have taken part in ‘constructive conversations’ regarding the extension of international partnerships, which will focus upon the sale of Tote products through retail and digital outlets, as well as with overseas pool betting operators.
Eamonn Wilmott, UK Tote Group Chairman, added: “I would like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who has been part of helping us get here. As well as supporting British racing, we want the Tote to make an ever-increasing contribution to ‘UK Plc’. We have our headquarters in Wigan and we aim to expand further, as well as building the Tote’s global connections.
“We have assembled a top-class executive team with a rare combination of passion, experience and expertise, who are entirely focused on ensuring the Tote has a bright future. We’re at the start of our journey to make the Tote into a successful, socially responsible business which truly cares about its customers and staff and gives back to the sport we love – a renewed Tote in which we can all take great pride.”
Nicholas Cooper, Chairman of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), concluded: “We are proud to be investors in the Tote. The ROA is here to support the interests of racehorse owners throughout the UK and we are delighted to see the Tote is now owned by people who care passionately about the future of British racing.
“We believe a rejuvenated Tote will be of significant long-term benefit to the finances of British racing which is a positive development for racehorse owners and the 85,000 people who work in the sport. We would encourage everyone in British racing to back the Tote.”