The decision by Britbet to put their proposed launch next month on hold comes as no surprise. What’s Britbet? It’s the new pool betting operation that was due to replace the racecourse Tote.
Betfred owns the Tote’s exclusive pool betting licence in Britain but that right is due to expire in July. Hence, 55 racecourses have joined ranks to form Britbet as a rival operator. However, the amount of money bet on the Tote is small beer when compared with that bet with bookmakers. Most punters prefer fixed odds betting and the Tote’s most popular bet is the Placepot. There are doubts over the viability of having two rival tote betting operations fighting for such a limited share of the market. Therefore, Britbet have decided to delay their launch in order to talk to the Tote about working together. That makes sense.
Meanwhile, the Tote will continue across the majority of tracks – Ascot, Chester and Bangor have their own arrangements – but Britbet will bring in their own technology and will provide the staff.
What Britbet might do
A consortium called Alizeti has recently taken a 25 per cent stake in the Tote, with a guaranteed option to purchase 100 per cent within three to five years in a deal worth up to £150 million.
Britbet have put in place what they call a ‘standstill agreement’ which will allow them time to talk with the Tote and Alizeti to establish a single pool betting operation. The standstill could run until the end of October. If a deal is done then Britbet would be the provider to the 55 tracks. However, if agreement cannot be reached by then they would go it alone. That would be bad news all round. If the deal goes ahead, racecourses will want to be sure that Alizeti and not Betfred is running the show.
To further complicate matters, the two major racecourse groups, Jockey Club Racecourses and Arc, who are both pivotal to the new company’s operation, are currently at loggerheads over media rights. As they say, watch this space.