After racehorse owners united to secure a landmark agreement for the future of the Tote last month, Sport Industry Group speaks to Alex Frost, CEO of ‘Together for the Tote’, about the new deal – worth up to £150m – what it means for the industry, and why it’s a win-win for British racing…
Firstly, tell us about the recent deal, what was the reasoning behind it and why have you decided to buy it?
The Alizeti consortium of racehorse owners has bought 25% of the UK Tote with an option to purchase it outright in three to five years. The overall investment will be up to £150m which will help create a strong UK Tote that will help secure racing’s finances for generations to come. This is a pivotal moment for racing’s funding and I'm tremendously excited about our vision for a truly iconic brand within the sport, and for where the Tote can go next.
So who are the investors?
The consortium is made up of racehorse owners and breeders who have come together for the Tote and between them own over 1,000 racehorses worldwide. They are horsemen who have a huge passion for racing and want to see a Tote at the centre of the sport that creates big £1m prizes for racing fans while returns significant sums back into the sport via increased levy contributions.
What changes can we expect to see at the Tote?
We’ve put together a world-class team of cross-industry experts to help grow the Tote and adapt it to suit the changing world around us. We see a big part of the future as being online and we’ll be making sure that the customer experience is the best the digital world has to offer. This will require significant investment in marketing and technology as we rejuvenate the engagement between the Tote and bettors.
In time the investment will not only allow us to update how the Tote looks and works, but also enable us to introduce new and exciting products to complement the existing Exotic bets and Tote offering. We plan to make customers very much a part of a modern product development and testing process. We’ll be keeping racing fans informed as these steps are made.
Do you have plans to expand internationally or into other sports?
Britain has some of the world’s greatest race meetings and is admired in many of the key international racing territories. One of our core growth aims is to tap into this and match it up with other pools across the world. We want to be much more ambitious in terms of reach and connectivity around the world. By establishing these partnerships and making them more attractive for international racing fans to bet into we’ll increase the liquidity in the pools which means bigger prizes and more money going back into the sport.
With regards to other sports for the foreseeable future our sole focus will be on horseracing and reinvigorating the core values and audience of the Tote. Over the longer-term, we will consider outstanding pool betting products to other sports as well.
The Jockey Club are launching Britbet in July, will you be working with them?
Everybody knows that a single pool betting operation is far more effective and our aim is to partner with Britbet for a single UK pool betting solution powered by the UK Tote. We’ve had some positive discussions and what’s clear is that we all want the best for racing with strong liquidity and no fragmentation of the pools.
What effect will your acquisition have on the racing industry?
Our #TogetherfortheTote campaign has had tremendous public support from across racing and is backed many different stakeholders in the industry from champion jockeys like McCoy, the most successful trainers like John Gosden and broadcasters like Clare Balding and this is because of our desire to build on the incredible heritage of the UK Tote and help it thrive to best serve the sport. We want a collaboration which everybody can gain from, from owners and breeders to bookmakers and racecourses.
One of our supporters, the CEO of the Racehorse Owners Association, Charlie Liverton has said that a number of sole owners are leaving the sport as it’s financially unviable. This means fewer horses in training and less competition. We want to change all that and build the Tote to benefit all of racing, including through an increased contribution to prize money. We’re all looking forward to repaying this faith and improving the Tote and, ultimately, improving the sport.
What will this mean for customers?
We will offer a better pool betting experience with increased engagement, a smoother customer journey and continued innovation in products. Our aim is to reduce takeout and this, coupled with strong liquidity, is absolutely essential in creating big jackpots. We want regular £1million pools that will mean customers can bet small and win big. I think it’s also important that customers see where their cash is going and the positive impact it has on the racing industry, much in the same way lottery players see the work carried out by national lottery funds.
For more information, visit TogetherfortheTote.com