What is Tote betting?

‘Tote’ is short for Horserace Totalisator Board and refers to a statutory corporation established, as the Racehorse Betting Control Board, in 1928. For much of its existence, the Tote was the only company in Britain allowed to accept pool bets. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the Tote has become a privatised, limited company and has lost its monopoly on pool betting. However, Tote betting essentially remains the same as it always has been.

Tote betting differs from fixed-odds betting with conevntional bookmakers insofar that all the money staked on a particular market – win, place, and so on – is pooled together. A fixed percentage is deducted from the pool and a winning dividend is calculated by dividing the remainder by the number of winning bets, or units. Obviously, this introduces an element of the unknown but, because the dividend reflects the popularity of a horse in the betting market, less well-backed outsiders often pay better on the Tote than they do with conventional bookmakers.

Tote betting is not limited to simple win, place or each-way bets. More complex, exotic bets include the ever-popular Tote Placepot, where punters select horses to finish placed in the first six races at a designated meeting, and the Tote Swinger, where they select two horses to finish anywhere in the first three in a designated race.