Established by an Act of Parliament in 1928, the Tote was, until sold to Betfred in 2011, a state-owned bookmaker. Formerly known as the ‘Horserace Totalisator Board’, the Tote differs from other bookmakers insofar as it offers pari-mutuel, or pool, betting on a variety of horse racing markets.
Straightforward win, place and each-way markets are available, along with more ‘exotic’ markets, but all stakes for each market are added to a kitty, or pool, from which the operator takes a percentage, before calculating the winning dividend. The dividend amount is determined simply by dividing the remainder of the pool by the number of winning bets.
Since 1992, other bookmakers have been able to take Tote bets, which are added to the appropriate pools, via a spin-off, known as Tote Direct. The seven-year monopoly on pool betting held by Betfred expired in July, 2018, but market rivals the Alizeti consortium, which already owns 25% of the Tote, and Britbet, which has the backing of 55 British racecourses, have agreed that the Tote will remain ‘as-is’ until at least 2025.