Reports in the Irish media suggest that the Irish tote could be up for sale.
It is being reported that Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is talking a range of bodies about the possible sale of Tote Ireland.
The news comes not long after the Tote has been the subject of wide-ranging review of its existence. The Tote has had a number of issues in the recent past. Most notably, it has found it hard to compete with the wider online betting industry, at a time of reduced attendances at Irish racecourses.
In 2018, there was a 33.3% fall in bets made with the Tote. That was partially blamed on changes in betting regulations in international markets, most notably in Israel, where pool betting has now been banned. But there was also a drop in on-course revenue, with turnover dropping by 7.7%.
Speaking about the future of the Tote, the Chief Executive of HRI said, at the weekend, that the body faced significant competition:
“If we continue to operate the way it is it will struggle going forward with such a small and competitive market involving bookmakers online and exchanges.”
The Tote is owned by HRI and has been part of the racing scene in Ireland for nearly 90 years, reinvesting all profits into the Irish horseracing industry. But there could be a number of betting operators who would be interested in taking it on, not least because of its reputation and tradition.
At this stage, it is not clear what the HRI intends to do. The full findings of the Tote review are set to be discussed at the next HRI board meeting on December 16. And any decisions on the future of the Tote will have to factor in its current licence, which is set to run until April 2021.