Totesport is the online and offline trading brand of the Tote, a bookmaker that the British government owned from its formation in 1928 until its sale to Betfred 83 years later. The Racecourse Betting Act created the Racehorse Betting Control Board as a statutory corporation. Legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill set up what became known as the Tote during his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s, with the purpose of the new entity to provide a safe, state-controlled alternative to illegal bookmakers and, also, ensure that thoroughbred horse racing received a generous slice of the wagering action in the form of a levy.
The first British thoroughbred racing meetings with tote betting took place in Carlisle and Newmarket in 1929 and today the Tote is the only British company that is allowed to run pool gambling on the Sport of Kings. For decades the Tote was synonymous with horses but, with sports wagering exploding in the United Kingdom during the 1990s and globally shortly thereafter, the organisation developed the Totesport brand to trade on its heritage but also say that it offered a full service.
The sports section of the website, which one has to navigate to via a splash page promoting the full range of the Tote’s services, including pool betting, is biased towards a select group of sports, with horse racing, football, golf and tennis getting top billing and everything else part of an A to Z index. The horses really are Totesport’s strength, with British racing newspaper Racing Post powering many features on its website, including jockey form, trainer form, horse trends, breeding statistics, racecourse statistics and daily expert tips. Live or in-play action is showcased very prominently and, just as importantly, very attractively on the website, servicing as a strong call to action when one is looking for an event or two on which to bet impulsively. Totesport does not have a device-specific app but it does have a mobile-friendly version of its website. In the rest of this review we will look at their wagering options, its bonuses, its security and licensing, how it treats professional and recreational punters and its banking practices, before providing an executive summary.
Thoroughbred horse racing is king, with the bookmaker being in the unique position among British firms of offering both fixed-odds and pool gambling on the sport. The manner in which Totesport presents its racing products is first class and no other United Kingdom-facing bookmaker comes close to matching its product range. It’s focused on the British and Irish market so football is another sport on which it places a great deal of emphasis. Although Totesport’s football options will satisfy the average punter, there is no arguing that there are superior football gambling services out there, ones that offer juicier odds and a greater number of markets per game. And once one heads off the beaten track and goes searching for markets on, for the want of a better phrase, second-tier sports, Totesport disappoints with a narrower range than one has come to expect from other bookmakers.
Totesport has an offer for new clients but it would be wrong to label it as special. One has to sign up and bet either five British pounds or five euros in order to get a free bet worth either 10 British pounds or 10 euros. Compared to other incentives online, the offer is really not exciting. Of the terms and conditions attached, it is worth noting that residents of Poland, Portugal and Romania are ineligible to receive the free bet.
Security and Licensing
Totesport is licensed and regulated by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, making it one of the few big British bookmakers that does not operate, online at least, out of a more tax-favourable jurisdiction such as Gibraltar, south of Spain. The bookie is part of Betfred, which is the world’s biggest owner-operator bookmaker with a retail estate of more than 1,350 shops. Betfred has been in business since 1967, so using its Totesport arm is a safe practice.
Professional Versus Recreational Punters
Totesport’s pool service on thoroughbred racing is what appeals to professional punters, particularly when the organisation’s flagship bet, Scoop6, rolls over for several weeks and the pot reaches several million British pounds. Well known British punters Harry Findlay and Patrick Veitch have – pardon the pun – scooped the pot since they launched Scoop6 in 1999. According to Findlay, who was the joint owner of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman, Scoop6 is a genius product and Totesport’s greatest invention. By and large, however, this is a bookmaker that is best suited to recreational punters who like to bet on mainstream sport events and live somewhere in the British Isles.
Totesport accepts customers from all four corners of the world – the United States of America is one of its few barred territories – but its facilitation of accounts in only two currencies – British pounds and euros – is a major barrier to entry for people located outside Europe. Banking options include Skrill (Moneybookers) et al so one can bet in, say, euros, by using a third party to convert currencies but one would be hit by any number of foreign currency conversion fees. The simplest thing to do for anyone whose home currency is neither British pounds nor euros is to open an account with another online bookmaker. executive Summary
Totesport is a must for anyone based in the British Isles who loves gambling on horses and the most popular sports such as football, golf and tennis. Its pool products are ace and unobtainable anywhere else. But punters who live outside of Ireland and the United Kingdom and do not like the Sport of Kings should look elsewhere.