Britbet remains on track despite new Tote deal

The organisers behind new pool betting project Britbet said on Monday they remain fully focused on launching in July despite the news that Fred Done is close to selling a 25 per cent stake in the Tote to a consortium of investors.

The Alizeti consortium is headed by racehorse owner and Epsom board member Alex Frost and is set to take a 25 per cent stake in the Tote as part of an investment which could total up to £150 million over the next five years.

The Betfred-owned Tote loses its seven-year exclusive licence to operate pool betting in Britain in July and Britbet was set up by the majority of Britain's racecourses as a rival to the Tote, with the backing off 55 tracks.

However, the Alizeti consortium says it plans what it describes as a guaranteed "double levy" annually through sponsorship and prize-money to boost racecourse finances, leading to speculation some courses might rethink their involvement in Britbet.

A statement from Britbet said: "The Britbet project has the support of 55 racecourses. The aim of the project was, and remains, to bring pool betting and the service provided on-course back into the arms of racing. We are firmly on track with delivering that aim, with an established launch date of July 13.

"Our 'by racing, for racing' positioning will ensure that all revenues generated remain within the sport. We are focused on ensuring a first-class experience for customers, complemented by innovative products."

Asked whether they would be prepared to work with the Alizeti consortium, Britbet said: "We remain open to any discussions with potential partners but are fully focused on delivering the strategy we have outlined with the support of our 55 racecourses and existing talented commercial partners."

Britbet's partner courses include those under the Jockey Club and Arena Racing Company banners and both said on Monday that they remained fully behind the project.

One of the Alizeti consortium's key objectives is to reduce pool takeouts to previous levels. In June last year the Tote raised deductions for their win and place pools to 19.25 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. Win pool deductions had been as low as 13.5 per cent.

They also aim to have regular £1 million pools for the Scoop6, Jackpot and Placepot – to which the Tote holds the brand rights.