The Tote operates as both a bookmaker and as a monopoly supplier of pool betting on horse and dog racing. It was set up as a pool betting operation in 1929, but this now makes up only a small proportion of its total turnover.
From the astute bettor’s point of view, this is actually a little surprising, because the odds available about the same horse or greyhound in the Tote pool is often superior to that available with bookmakers at starting price, and on the average significantly better for less-fancied chances.
The basic way of betting on the Tote at the course is to approach any of the red-coated attendants manning the Tote terminals which are usually conveniently near to the paddock or hospitality areas of the racecourse. Tote Credit clients also have access to their own client area. Off-course, bets can be placed at any Tote betting office, or by telephone, or on the Tote web-site. There are also a number of so-called Tote Direct terminals in the offices of rival bookmakers, notably Ladbrokes and Coral, which accept bets straight into the pool.
The simplest bet is a bet to win. The minimum stake is £2, and the whole of the pool is shared out among winning bettors, save for a deduction of 13.5%. There is no maximum stake but in a small pool a large bet is likely to depress the odds about the selection too much to make betting sense. In the larger pools, however, characteristic of all-Tote countries, especially Hong Kong, even sizeable bets may fail to make a dent in the odds.
Other Tote bets include:
Place: this is a bet on the horse to finish in the first three (usually),
although the number of finishers which qualify for a winning place bet can vary depending on the number of runners and the type of race.
Each way: this is a win and a place bet on the same horse. It is available on all races of five or more runners.
Exacta: this bet requires selection of the first and second-placed
horse in the correct order.
Jackpot: this bet requires selection of the winners of all six specified
Jackpot races (usually races 1 to 6). It operates daily at a selected meeting.
Placepot: This bet requires selection of a placed horse in all of six
specified Placepot races (usually races 1 to 6). It operates at every meeting.
Quadpot: This bet requires selection of a placed horse in each of four
selected Quadpot races (usually races 3 to 6). It operates at almost every meeting.
Trifecta: This requires selection of 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the correct order
in nominated races of eight or more runners.
Scoop 6: This requires the selection of the winners of each of six
nominated TV races, and operates on a Saturday only. The races may be selected from more than one meeting.