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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

First stage of Tote deal complete as Britbet considers rowing in with consortium

The Alizeti consortium has bought a stake in the Tote
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The first stage of a deal in which a consortium of racing figures is set to invest as much as £150 million into the Tote has been completed.

The Alizeti consortium, headed by racehorse owner and breeder Alex Frost, reached an agreement in principle to take a stake in the Tote in March and has the option to increase that investment over the next five years to complete a full takeover.

It is understood the board of Britbet, the pool betting operation being set up by 55 of Britain's racecourses to rival the Tote, was meeting on Monday evening to consider a proposal from the consortium that would result in the courses aligning themselves with Alizeti.

If that were to happen it would remain to be seen whether the Britbet brand would still be launched as the successor to the Tote on the majority of Britain's racecourses.

Fred Done's Betfred bought the Tote for £265m in 2011 and were granted a seven-year monopoly on pool betting that expires on July 13.

The courses involved in Britbet include those under the Jockey Club and Arena Racing Company banners as well as leading independents such as Goodwood, Newbury and York.

However, the Tote will still be linked with Ascot's in-house operation and Chelmsford, while Chester and Bangor have not offered on-track pool betting since 2011.

'Potential for collaboration'

While Britbet would dominate pool betting across Britain's racecourses, Betfred have tied their partners in Tote Direct to a long-term deal, meaning the racecourse project faces a challenge getting its product into high-street betting shops.

Britbet's prospects of success were questioned by some observers at last week's Asian Racing Conference, with the prospect of falling liquidity caused by split pools described as "high risk".

However, Jockey Club chief executive Simon Bazalgette told the conference: "There is clearly a risk of fragmentation of pools and off course the potential for confusion, but we also think there is potential for collaboration and co-mingling.

"Although we have less than two months before we launch, we still think there are opportunities and we are in discussions."

One of the Alizeti consortium's key objectives is to reduce pool takeouts to previous levels. In June last year the Tote raised deductions for their win and place pools to 19.25 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. Win pool deductions had been as low as 13.5 per cent.

They also aim to have regular £1 million pools for the Scoop6, Jackpot and Placepot – to which the Tote holds the brand rights.

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It is understood the board of Britbet was meeting on Monday evening to consider a proposal from the consortium
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