Online Sportsbooks Line up to Take Over The Tote

Written by Tom B. on 2010-09-21 at 23:53
online gambling in UK - GamingZion
When U.K. secretary of state Jeremy Hunt stated that “We have no desire to keep the Tote as part of the public sector” in a Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting in London last week, he may not have realized the whirlwind of speculation and debate he’d trigger. But he has.

The Tote is the government-run (more on this later) horserace betting corporation in the United Kingdom. And, at the sound of what appeared to be yet another European nation privatizing a monopoly company, at least three big names have stepped forward to say they’d be willing to provide this sort of online gambling site in the U.K.: Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and William Hill.

William Hill announced its interest yesterday, with CEO Ralph Topping going so far as to say that “To ensure that this is truly an ‘open market’ sale, we believe that the Office of Fair Trading needs to revisit the archaic competition tests which have looked at the market in terms of betting shops: the true market is a global one that includes online and betting exchanges. 

“We would be disappointed if the ‘open market’ sale was burdened with any onerous preconditions which might reduce the sale value of the Tote.”

But all this bucking for position might be premature. As columnist Charlie Brooks at the Telegraph newspaper pointed out, “the Government doesn’t own the Tote” in any real sense “because the Act which enabled it to nationalise the Tote back in 2004 was never implemented and is now destined for the scrap heap.” 

Though the government appoints a board of directors to the Tote, it plays no other active part in its business, neither funding nor receiving income from the betting site.

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