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The Tote
Founded 1928
Headquarters Wigan, Greater Manchester
Industry Gambling
Products Sports betting, Casino, Games and Bingo.
Employees over 4,000[1]

The Horserace Totalisator Board, more commonly known as The Tote, is a British bookmaker with head offices in Wigan. Under the brand totesport the Tote has over 540 high street betting shops[1], outlets on Britain's 60 racecourses, as well as internet and call centre divisions. The company is known for its pool bets such as the Scoop6, and is currently the only organisation in the UK which is allowed to run pool betting on horseracing, though this is set to change once the company's privatisation is complete[2]. The company has also branched out into fixed odds betting on other sports in recent years, as well as casino and bingo operations online.



The Tote was created by an act of parliament in 1928[3], and the first Horserace Totalisator Board set up by Winston Churchill with the intention to provide a safe, state-controlled alternative to illegal off course bookmakers and to ensure that some gambling revenues were put into the sport of horse racing[4]. The first major race meetings with tote betting were the flat race meetings at Newmarket (July Course) and Carlisle on 2 July 1929.

The Tote opened its first high street betting shop in 1972, and has since grown to employ more than 4,000 staff. Tote Direct was set up in 1992 to channel tote bets from other high street bookmakers into tote pools. Now tote betting is accepted are in more than 7,000 betting shops across the UK (the majority of which are non-Tote owned shops) as well as via other online gambling websites.

In 1999, The Tote linked up with Channel 4 Racing to introduce the popular Scoop6 bet which involves bettors trying to select the winner of six televised races. This bet produced the first horserace betting millionaire, a feat which has been achieved on several more occasions since. A record single-day turnover, in excess of £4 million, was bet into the Scoop6 pool on 22 November 2008.

The Tote has formal pool betting links from similar organisations in Ireland, Germany, Holland, America and South Africa.



The Tote is unique in that its government-appointed board is the Tote, although privatisation of the organisation has been a Labour Party manifesto commitment since 2001. The then Chancellor Gordon Brown announced privatisation in the 2006 Budget. Until the sale happens, it remains a statutory corporation[5]. In line with its manifesto promise to privatise the Tote, the Government invited a racing consortium and tote staff to formally bid for the Tote by 26 January 2007. This bid was successfully submitted but was rejected by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. On 5 March 2008, the Government announced that The Tote would be sold on the open market. However, after an extensive audit, the prevailing financial situation forced the Government to opt to retain the status quo until further notice. On 11 October 2009, BBC News reported that Gordon Brown, now Prime Minister, would announce the sale of the Tote the following day.[6]

Key dates

  • 1928 Racecourse Betting Act passed (August) Racecourse Betting Control Board (the Tote) set up to handle on-course cash pool bets on horse racing
  • 1929 First meeting operated under Licence: West Street Harriers (13 March)
  • First meeting operated with Board's staff: Old Surrey & Burstow (27 April)
  • First major meetings: Newmarket (July Course) and Carlisle (2 July)
  • 1930 Tote Investors Ltd set up as an independent company to handle off-course credit tote bets
  • 1933 First grants made from Tote profits to Hunters' Improvement Society, promoters of point-to-point meetings and pony racing
  • 1956 First sponsored race: Tote Investors Cup (Kempton)
  • 1961 Betting Levy Act transferred responsibility for distribution of funds to racing to the Levy Board; Board reconstituted as Horserace Totalisator Board; Tote Investors Ltd opened two betting shops to handle tote pool bets only
  • 1962 tote buys Tote Investors Ltd
  • 1972 tote permitted to handle bets on all sports
  • 1973 Tote Bookmakers launched
  • 1986 Live TV pictures in betting shops
  • 1992 Tote Direct launched (joint venture with Corals)
  • 1993 Betting shops open in the evening
  • 1995 Sunday racing (May: Newmarket and Salisbury)
  • 1997 tote permitted to handle bets on all events, including numbers. Ladbrokes join Tote Direct
  • 2002 tote betXpress internet service launched
  • 2004 Official unveiling of totesport/totepool
  • 2009 Two year deal to sponsor Hull City AFC

History of Tote pool bets

  • 1929 Win and Place pools
  • 1930 Daily Double launched (discontinued 1985) Special Autumn Double (Cesarewitch/Cambridgeshire)
  • 1931 Ante-post bets on Cambridgeshire and Manchester November Handicap (money was placed in main pools)
  • 1933 Straight forecast pool (3 or 4 runner races) (discontinued 1939)
  • 1934 Unsuccessful experiment with Single Pools (Win and Place bets in the same pool)
  • 1939 Daily Treble (discontinued 1985)
  • 1947 Straight forecast pool re-introduced (3 to 5 runner races) (discontinued 1977)
  • 1955 Dual Forecast (discontinued 2000)
  • 1965 Quadpool (discontinued 1966)
  • 1966 Jackpot (June: Royal Ascot)
  • 1970 Tricast (Discontinued 1973)
  • 1977 Placepot (November: Newbury)
  • 1979 Top Three Jockey Pool at Ascot
  • 1983 Super Double and Super Treble (Scottish courses only) (discontinued 1983)
  • 1991 Trio (discontinued 1998)
  • 1994 Quadpot launched (June: Pontefract and Nottingham) and Multibet (May: Goodwood)
  • 1998 Trifecta launched (August: Goodwood)
  • 1999 Scoop6 launched (July)
  • 2000 Exacta launched (January)
  • 2008 Swinger and Super7 launched

Footnotes and references

External links


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