A New Betting System Replaces The Tote At Chester.

As we get near the to the Chester Meeting, the subject of Tote betting at the course comes up once again.

Some of you will remember that I was a touch negative to Chester‘s sister race-course – Bangor, when they launched their on-course ‘BangorBET’ service on the 17th of April. It is no surprise to see that Chester will operate a similar service called ……….ChesterBET.

ChesterBET is to replace the Tote betting on course only, even though you can still put on the usual bets on the Tote at Chester away from the course in a betting shop or on-line.

Some of the longer subscribers will know I was against the selling off of the Tote, mainly as I felt in the long run, it would result in less money going to racing over the course of time.

Some worries are just conjecture at this stage, but based on a knowledge of what tends to happen when a company takes over a public body. Generally things get worse, and that is not a political point, just look at the trains and utilities – Are they better now?

Some of the concerns are that bets will be ‘messed about with’ over time, perhaps the charges will be ‘tweaked’ against the bettors favour, plus Tote sponsored so many races and this number will be cut more and more. Another sad point is that Tote employed plenty of people that are now not needed, as with all take-overs.

Some of these things are happening at Chester and Bangor now. These two tracks would rather have all the profit from the Tote Bets, and they look as if their new returns pay worse than the Tote dividends returned or the SP. Also, some Tote bets are not available at all, like a Placepot for example.

All the Tote windows and the Tote betting shop, have been replaced with a new Chester Tote-esque system, which is self contained, but is neither SP, or Tote.

In comparison with the Tote bets, ChesterBET does not have the ‘strength’ of money that the Tote Direct system has, which collects bets on course, and nationally across all the Bookies to create a strong ‘pot of money’ on the race to bet from.

This could be the start of the break up of the Tote system if other race-courses follow suit as they will try to cut out the middle-man (Tote/Betfred) to do it themselves.

It looks as if the profit margin that can be gained, is the main reason for change, as Tote generally pay the course around 7 to 10% comission on bets (dependant on which bet).

For example, Placepotsts have 27% taken off by the Tote, if racecourses try to keep this for themselves, perhaps with more on top, it’s a very big carrot to dangle in front of other tracks.

I assume that ‘Betfred’ Tote do not want to just put a few Tote Direct machines in behind the counter at Chester and Bangor, they want all their windows and betting shop on the course back as it was.

If other courses start to follow suit, Betfred could lose out, and the Tote ‘pot’ will suffer.

But it has not been all rosy for BangorBet either. When they tried their bets live for the first day, as it seems to be some standard bets were not available. Many people found they could not write their own multiple bets, especially with differing amounts, say, on trebles and four folds for example. The normal range of shop bets were not available.

To have the on course ex-Tote betting shop re-open as a BangorBet shop, without basic bets is quite frankly laughable.

A few quotes from management , which unfortunately include the words “We have learned a lot” and “We’re on a learning curve” – Which means they don’t quite know what they are doing, but will plug on anyway.

In the interest of balence, all the profits from this new system can go back into Chester and Bangor race-course directly. The figures being bandied about are that the amounts paid, (as you cannot take a price) were about 10% less than SP.

So the punter pays in the end….As usual. If the Tote stayed as it was, nothing would have changed.

I will keep an eye on how it goes at Chester this week, because apart from this annoying change, this course in particular really does give a great three day meeting. I shall make up for my grumbling, with some in-depth reports, as I am very Pro-Chester in every other way!

Just put your bets on in the betting shop before-hand, perhaps at Corbett Bookmakers, just up the road!

The Jag

P.S. Punchestown is having an extra meeting this evening following the cancellation of nine races during the festival last month. Todays card hold some of those races, and will now make this a two day meeting.

Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase, The Madra Irish Dog Food Novice Chase, and the Aon Handicap Chase get another go after being casualties from the Festival due to bad weather.

Southwell hold a replacement fixture for abandoned Newcastle

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