Totepool betting is available at 56 of the 59 racecourses across the UK, at greyhound stadiums and online through a number of different sportsbooks. It offers an alternative to the traditional method of betting on horse and greyhound racing, with successful punters receiving a share of a prize pot rather than a set payout as with fixed-odds wagering.
You can bet using Totepool outlets at racecourses and dog tracks across the country, or online with Totesport or its parent company Betfred. Although Totesport owns the monopoly on this type of betting, many other bookmakers feature Totepool betting through a syndication agreement. You can find this service at Coral and William Hill, among others.
Totepool bets are placed online or at outlets at courses, where you place your stake on your selection or selections and declare which type of Totepool bet you would like to place. The distribution of prizes works more like a lottery than regular sports betting, with the prize for those who choose the winning horse or greyhound determined by how much money was bet on the race and how many other winning punters there are.
If you back the favourite and it wins, it is likely that a greater number of punters will have also bet on the same selection, meaning your share will be smaller than if you correctly backed an outsider.
For the basic Totewin bet, in which you simply predict the winner of the race, 16.5 percent of the prize pool is returned to the company in commission, also known as the ‘takeout’. The remaining 83.5 percent is then divided by the total number of stakes and rounded down to the nearest ten pence to provide a figure that represents the amount received in winnings for each £1 bet. Winning bettors are then paid out a dividend, including their stake, proportional to the amount they originally bet.
If there is less than £1 in total staked on the winning horse, any winning punters receive the relevant proportion of the net prize pool, with the remaining funds, plus the takeout, rolling over to a later race. If there is no money placed on the winning horse, the entire prize pool, including the commission, rolls over.
Whereas at a traditional bookmaker, you would see the odds on the horses or greyhounds winning the race, in Totepool betting you are shown an indication of the payout for every pound wagered as the prize pool stands at that moment. As more punters place more money, that figure will inevitably fluctuate.
There are a number of different types of Totepool bet you can place, each offering a different challenge and range of rewards.