Is Britbet sunk before it launches?
This week’s news that Alizeti Capital, a consortium of high-profile racing people headed by former Merrill Lynch trader Alex Frost, made its first payment of £20m to Betfred for a minority share of the Tote, with further payments leading to full control, puts into sharp focus the problems the racecourse led Britbet pool operation faces.
Whilst taking on the Fred Done owned Tote was never going to be easy, the lack of innovation and the increased take-out from the pool was something which Britbet could have exploited.
But all that changes with Alizeti’s arrival on the scene. Already, there’s a stated intention to reduce deductions and guarantee big-prize pay-outs for accumulator bets.
And, and as well as keeping the major Tote brand name, there’s the exclusive right to continue to use terms such as Jackpot, Placepot and Scoop 6. Britbet, a name which the racecourses had to negotiate with Betfred to use as the bookmaker had already registered it, will have to find new labels for their bets.
And the Tote has in place deals with bookmakers to offer Tote bets both online and through shops, something which Britbet has yet to secure.
All this means that the chances are Britbet will throw in the towel.
Whilst those who still bemoan that off-course betting in this country was not restricted to a tote monopoly, and that “racing” failed to buy the Tote when the government finally put it up for auction, this week’s developments means people need to face facts regarding the viability of Britbet, and the best course of action would be to get into bed with the Tote and capitalise on its potential.
Whether or not that would mean a financial interest in the Tote, or a royalty, or, as has been mentioned, increased contributions to the sport from the Tote remains to be seen.
But one thing is sure, in pool betting where dividends are king, low liquidity means you can’t afford to be second-best and, with less than two months before the Tote’s pool monopoly ends, that’s where Britbet look to be.