The Tote has been a fundamental part of British racing since 1928, bringing fun and innovation for punters, and providing vital funding every year for British horseracing.

It was established by Parliament when Winston Churchill was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to provide a safe, state-controlled alternative to illegal bookmakers, and ensure some of the revenues from gambling were used for “purposes conducive to the improvement of breeds of horses or the sport of horseracing”.

It is not one of the well known facts about Churchill but he was a big supporter of horseracing and went on to own several good racehorses in later life. He is pictured above with his most successful racehorse Colonist II.


Key dates in the Tote’s history:

  • 1929 – July flat race meetings at Newmarket and Carlisle are the first major race meetings with Tote betting

  • 1930 – Tote Investors Ltd set up as an independent company to handle off-course credit tote bets.

  • 1973 – Tote bookmakers launched across the country

  • 1992 – Tote Direct set up to channel tote bets from other bookmakers into tote pools - and tote betting is now accepted in over 7,000 UK betting shops, as well as online

  • 1999 – the Scoop6 bet introduced, allowing punters to select the winner of six races – and producing the first horse race betting millionaire

  • 2011 – the Tote is sold by the government to bookmaker Betfred

  • 2016 – the Tote signs an international agreement with The Hong Kong Jockey Club allowing UK customers to bet into the HKJC pools.

  • 2018 – the Tote signs an international agreement with Ascot Racecourse and The Hong Kong Jockey Club to create the first ‘World Pool’ that draws bets from around the globe on Ascot races.

The best bet in Britain and probably the world
— Agnes Haddock, who won £688,620 from a £2 Scoop6 bet in 2007

We’re determined to build on the UK Tote’s proud history, and transform it into a world-leading pools platform that continues to bring excitement and value to fans, and financial security to British horseracing.