No revolution but still a new start for pool betting as Betfred monopoly ends
Friday will not deliver a tectonic shift in pool betting as had once seemed likely, but racegoers will see the start of a new dawn.
Betfred's monopoly over pool betting through the Tote ended on Thursday and 55 racecourses had planned to launch their own operation, Britbet, from Friday.
However, those plans have been put on hold while talks continue between Britbet and Betfred and their new partners Alizeti over whether a deal to work together can be reached.
Totepool will continue to operate on the majority of Britain's courses but Britbet will still have a presence.
The staff operating the Totepool outlets will be from Britbet, which will now also operate racecourse betting shops at Goodwood and ten Arena Racing Company courses – starting with Chepstow and Ffos Las on Friday.
Britbet managing director Nigel Roddis said: "What we are trying to do is offer an on-course betting service, and the shops are a key part of that. We have the licences, the staff and the experience to do it, so we're looking forward to it."
Britbet had been working with Colossus Bets on new pool wagers, but that arrangement is now on hold so Colossus will be launching their own pools, which will also be available through Betfair, Betdaq and Matchbook.
Chief executive Bernard Marantelli said their pools would offer guarantees, cash-out, consolation prizes and the chance for syndicates to get involved.
He said they were still speaking to Britbet and Alizeti, adding: "We would like to modernise pools that financially benefit racing and we are prepared to work with racing to merge our features in a way that joins the liquidity of the existing pools and maximises the income for racing."
Ascot's chief operating officer Alastair Warwick, who is also managing director of the new venture, said: "We're looking forward to welcoming visitors to Ascot [on Friday] for the launch of Bet With Ascot, in partnership with Totepool.
"Bet With Ascot will begin with a staff of 120, all wearing the new uniforms unveiled in May, alongside the range of bets we are offering."
Chester, which also races on Friday, has its own long-standing in-house betting operation, ChesterBET, and while it now has the opportunity to offer pool betting it has no plans to do so.
Chief executive Richard Thomas said: "We are carrying on as we are. We're finding that fixed odds is working very well and I don't think we'll be moving away from that any time soon."
Ripon has a similar operation to Chester but was due to switch to Britbet's pools from Monday's meeting. That change has been put on hold by the standstill agreement.
Clerk of the course James Hutchinson said: "We'll continue as RiponBet with Sportech running it for us. It's the only option that is available with the standstill agreement so we've done a new deal with Sportech to continue until the end of the season."
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