Tote and Totepool

You may well be used to placing bets that are reliant on the starting price that is declared. With the Tote it’s a little bit different though with a dividend being declared. There’s also some fantastic opportunities to win some massive life-changing prizes.

History of the Tote

The history of the Tote goes back to the 1920’s. There was a big problem with illegal off-course bookmakers so action was taken by no less than Winston Churchill. The 1928 Racecourse Betting Act set up the Racehorse Betting Control Board. The aim here wasn’t just to deal with the illegal off-course problem but to find a way to ensure that some gambling revenue was returned to the sport of horse racing. This led to grants being made to horse-racing related societies and the sponsorship of races beginning with the Tote Investors Cup at Kempton in 1956.

More legislation took place in 1961 with the Betting Levy Act. This created the Horserace Totalisator Board which became known as The Tote. 11 years later the Tote opened its first High Street betting shop and these have grown over the years now employing more than 4000 staff. Further expansion happened in 1992 with the introduction of ToteDirect, this channeled tote bets from other High Street bookmakers into tote pools so tote betting is now accepted in more than 7000 betting shops around the UK.

There were attempts made to privatise the Tote in the late 1980s but 1995 saw the Conservative Government abandon the plan. The return to power of Labour changed all this though and the 2004 Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Act proposed privatisation. At one stage it looked as if a racing consortium and Tote staff bid would be successful but it was rejected due to it being backed by private equity.

The Difference between Tote and Fixed Odds

Tote betting is known as pari-mutuel betting which originates back in France in the 19th century. People will stake money on the race and after the bookmaker takes a cut and tax is paid, the rest is divided out between those who have backed the winner.


This really does vary and it all depends on how many people pick the winner Often the dividend paid is similar to that of the SP. There are times though when it will be higher if not many have chosen that horse to be the winner.

The real areas in where Totepool attracts custom is with the Jackpot and Scoop6 bets where massive amounts of money can be won and can create millionaires.


If wanting to use the Tote on some of the top online betting sites, there are some restrictions. On the Bet365 site there is no maximum pay-out applied to bets that go into Tote pools but they don’t accept Tote bets from Irish racetracks and any Lucky 15/31/63 bonuses will not apply to Tote bets.

Types of Tote Bet


You can place a ToteWin bet on all races and a TotePlace bet on any race that has at least five runners. The minimum bet for a ToteWin bet is £2 or £2 each way. Rather than there being starting prices determining how much you win, there is a dividend declared which is to a £1 stake. If the dividend for the winner is £2.50 then if you bet £1 that’s how much, you’ll win. If you bet £10 then you receive £25 (£2.50 x 10).


1999 saw the introduction of the Scoop6 bet which is the main feature of racing on Channel 4 on Saturdays. This sees punters having to try and get the winners of the six televised races and can produce winners of more than £1m.

The Win Fund dividend is won if your six selections all win. The Place Fund dividend is paid to those who have selected a horse that is placed in each of the six legs. If you are the winner of the Win Fund dividend, then the following week there’s the Bonus Fund dividend. This sees you having to select the winner of a selected televised race and can substantially add to the massive win you have already have. If no one wins the Win Fund, then it rolls over to the following week. There is also a Starting Fund which is 5% of the Scoop6 turnover. This goes into the fund and when the Scoop6 is won the sum in that fund moves into the Win Fund to get the ball rolling again.


This takes place on selected races but not on race cards held on a Saturday. They usually take place during festival meetings such as Cheltenham or Aintree.


The Exacta is the Totepool equivalent of the Computer Straight Forecast (CSF). It can prove to be a better bet than the CSF with recent statistics showing a higher win using the Exacta in two out of three races.

To be a winner you need to select the first and second in a race in the right order. The minimum stake is £2. You could go for a Combination Exacta where the two selected horses have to finish in the top two but in any order. Then there’s the Banker Exacta where the hardest part is to get the winner. Then you can choose a number of other horses, one of which will hopefully finish second.


To win this bet you need to get the first, second and third in a race in the correct order. The minimum stake is £2.

A combination Trifecta sees three horse selected and they have to all finish in the top three in any order. You can go for a Banker Trifecta bet where you select one horse to win the race and multiple selections to finish second and third. The average dividend for the Trifecta is £572 to a £1 stake, while record dividends have soared as high as £70k.


This is a really popular bet that takes place every day. This covers six races (aka legs) and to win you need to get all six winners. You can place single line entries from a minimum of £1 or place permutation entries. If the jackpot is not won, then it is carried onto the next day.


This is a great bet where you can get a good win without even picking a winner. You simply have to make selections for entrants that you believe will be placed in the first six races on the card. If you choose all favourites and the six of them get placed, then the bet isn’t going to pay a great dividend. If a couple of favourites are unplaced, especially odds-on favourites then the size of the dividend will increase. The minimum stake is £1.


This is similar to the Tote Placepot but as the name suggests it only covers four races, namely races three to six on the card unless otherwise stated. Again the minimum stake is £1.


For decades the Tote has helped keep money staked in the sport and has done some great work. There are some great bets available, especially the Jackpot and Scoop6 that can really change your life if you manage to get a win.