The Times has revealed that a group of UK racing stakeholders are preparing to establish a rival pool-based betting system to Betfred’s Tote, as the sport looks for new revenue streams.
Led by the Jockey Club and Arena Racing Company (ARC), it is understood that 56 of the 60 UK racetracks have committed to the Tote rival venture which will aim to launch its services by 2018 when Betfred’s exclusive pools licence runs out.
The Racing Post reports that former Gala Coral Chairman Neil Goulden is leading the new racing pools project which has gained support from numerous high-powered racing stakeholders.
In 2011 amid the ongoing financial crisis recovery, the UK government sold the Tote to Betfred for £265 million. UK racing received 50% of the sale which was ring-fenced for the Racing Foundation charity.
At the time of the Tote sale, a number of racing stakeholders were critical of the government’s actions stating that Betfred had been granted a ‘cheap pass’ to create a trackside monopoly on racing pools.
Backers of the venture, which will not be allowed to be branded as a ‘Tote’ product, have detailed that a successful system could double pool betting contributions to UK racing.
Speaking to The Times, racing CEOs Martin Cruddace (ARC) and Simon Bazalgette (Jockey Club) personally backed the project stating that racing needed to revamp its pool system with better centralized operations and flexibility for racecourse owners.
In recent years, Betfred owner Fred Done has had a fractious relationship with UK racing. In December 2015, Done stated that his company could ‘walk away from the sport’ following the loss of Betfred’s title sponsorship of Cheltenham Festival’s Gold Cup for not committing to UK racing’s ‘authorised betting partner’ scheme.
Furthermore, Done has been publicly critical of racecourse owners funding strategy for the sport, stating that their plans made no economic sense.