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Pool betting deal struck

Fred DoneThe two operations planning to run pool betting on British racing have come to an 11th-hour agreement to work together in a £50 million seven-year deal.

The deal between Britbet, the project put together by 55 of Britain's racecourses, and the Tote consortium made up of Betfred and their partners Alizeti means that the sport will continue to have one pool into which tote bets are placed.

Alex Frost, the chief executive of Alizeti which owns a 25 per cent stake in the Tote, said the agreement was a "very important step" in revitalising the Tote and helping secure British racing's finances for "generations to come", while Arena Racing Company chief executive Martin Cruddace described it as a "landmark deal for British racing".

Under the agreement, the Tote brand will continue to operate on the 55 racecourses who are part of Britbet, which include those under the Arena Racing Company and Jockey Club banners along with the likes of Goodwood, Newbury and York.

Ascot launchedits own pool-betting operation AscotBet in partnership with the Tote in July and the Berkshire track will be included in the single pool as well, as will Chelmsford.

Britbet will manage all operations across their 55 partner racecourses while the Tote consortium will continue to develop the Tote online and in betting shops as well as being responsible for the digital offering and marketing of the Tote.

Betfred founder Fred Done (pictured) said: "This deal builds on the hard work and achievements of the Betfred team in the seven years of our ownership of the Tote. We look forward to continuing this work as part of a new era for the Tote alongside our existing partnership with Ascot."

Britbet chairman Neil Goulden said the deal realised the aim of maximising returns from pool betting for the 55 courses involved.

He added: "We now look forward to working with the Tote consortium to deliver the innovation and investment that will allow pool betting to flourish and, in turn, serve the sport we love.

"The rollout of our new technology across the 55 racecourses along with the operational control we have been exercising since July 13 remains central to the Britbet vision. This agreement now gives us scope to deliver an even richer experience for our racecourse customers."

Talks between the two sides have been taking place since a standstill agreement was reached in June, an agreement which was due to expire at the end of October.

Jockey Club group chief executive Simon Bazalgette said the discussions with Frost's team had been collaborative, adding: "We are very pleased to support this deal on the basis that Alizeti’s approach involves significant and vital investment in the Tote, designed to grow pool betting and its returns for our sport."

His counterpart at Arc, Martin Cruddace, welcomed the deal, adding: "We are committed to developing a strong and engaging pool-betting product that will be attractive to our customers. Equally, it will allow us to maximise the opportunities that a strong pool-betting operation offers British racing.

"This is a landmark deal for British racing and we look forward to working with our colleagues at the Jockey Club, the other Britbet stakeholders, Alizeti and, of course, the Tote to build on this collaborative approach.

"Today represents a significant step forward for British racing, and I would like to thank all involved for working together to make it possible."

Attention will now turn to when Alizeti will be able to carry outits ambition of buying the Tote in full.

Its chief executive Alex Frost said: "We are committed to being part of helping secure British racing’s finances for generations to come through a revitalised Tote.

"This deal is another very important step forward in enabling this to happen and follows on from the Tote’s existing partnership with Ascot, ensuring the sport now has a united approach to pool betting."

Ascot's chief executive Guy Henderson was another to hail the agreement.

"It is tremendous news that Britain will operate one single pool, benefitting from the expertise, experience and international relationships of the Tote," he said.

Chester and Bangor will continue to offer their own in-house betting operation and are not part of the deal.

30 October 2018

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