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Tote betting is a pools system of betting on a number of sports. It is different to the fixed odds betting offered by other bookmakers as the amount of returns is determined on how much money was taken on a race and how many winning predictions there were. All the people who predicted the winning horse divide the winning pay out.
Tote betting is sometimes seen as a simpler way of betting on horses as it does away with working out the odds and getting a fixed price. Betting with the tote is just a case of picking a horse and then waiting to see what the starting price is. The winnings are then shared. All racecourses will have a tote betting point – and there are plenty of other off-track opportunities now as well.
Even though the tote is a system of pool betting, the odds offered here are usually very similar to the bookmakers’ prices as bettors would soon choose one over the other if there was a bigger difference as that would result in much bigger returns.
The main difference is that with tote betting the exact amount of a bettor’s winning return is unknown until it is paid out as it depends on how many winning tickets were sold and the total cash amount taken.
Tote betting is not a particularly popular form of betting in the UK – taking up only about 4% of the market. The horse racing industry would probably like that proportion to grow as they see the tote betting system putting more money back into the sport rather than maximising profits for the bookmakers.