Tote betting

The Tote (Who offer Tote betting) is the only bookmakers in the UK who are allowed to offer what is known as ‘parimutuel’ betting. This term comes from the French, and means “mutual betting”. It differs from normal “odds” betting is that all bets are gathered together in a central pool. Once a “house percentage” is taken off, the pool is then divided between all winners of the bet.

The “Tote” is short for the “Horserace Totalisator Board” who is a UK bookmaker with head offices in Wigan, and who have been around since 1928 when they were created by the UK government to provide a safe means of gambling on horse races. Eventually, the Tote was privatised and sold to BetFred. More recently Betfred has sold it on and now numerous UK betting apps have Tote betting sections.

Which Betting Company Offers Tote Betting?

Tote betting advertisementFor over eighty years, the Tote was the only bookmakers where Tote betting was available. You can place Tote bets with other bookmakers who will then pass your bet to the Tote. Some other bookmakers will allow you to make “Tote” bets that payout on exactly the same terms as the Tote itself.

There are several types of Tote bet available. Some examples are:

Tote Win – this is the simplest bet. You pick a horse to win, and if it does, you win a share of the pot. The minimum bet is £1.

Tote Place – You pick a horse to place. There must be a minimum of five riders for a place bet to be available. If the horse places, you win a share of the pot. The minimum place bet is £2.

Each-Way betting – A combination of a Tote Win and a Tote Place bet.

Tote Exacta – A bet that is a little more involved. This is the same as a forecast bet at a normal bookmaker. You are required to pick the horses that will finish first and second in a race.

There are several types of Tote betting options: Trifecta (pick first three horses), Quadpot (pick horses in four separate races that will place), Placepot (pick horses in six separate races that place), Jackpot (pick the first six winners at one race meeting), Scoop 6 (same as Jackpot but for televised meetings) and Toteswinger (pick two horses to finish in the first three).

How to place a Tote bet

Placing a Tote bet is a simple enough process, just as long as your not asking us to pick any winners for you!

Here’s an example of how its done, these steps can be followed on the William Hill sports app.

Step 1 Find the Tote markets  – Open the app or site and go to horse race betting. Then navigate to Tote in the menu. You’ll now have this screen or similar showing –

Select which of the Tote pools you'd like to bet on

Across the top, you can select the which of the pots you want to bet on. For this example, we’re going for the placepot at Lingfield Park.

Step 2 – Select your horses – Here you have the choice of backing multiple horses in each race. We are looking for them to place in the race rather than win. If you select multiple horses then the cost will keep increasing to cover all the multiple options. To select your horse tap or press next to it as shown below –

Select your horse for each race

You need to select a horse in all of the 6 races before you can place your bet. The green at the top shows how many horses you have selected for each race – here we have made 1 pick per race.

Step 3 – Place your bet – Below the placepot, you will find the bet slip as shown below –

Confirm by selecting place bet

You can change the stake as you please. The winnings are a share of the total pot so the more you put in the more in theory you’d get out. Remember though if there are multiple winners you may get back less than you put in!

Is Tote Betting Right For Me?

Tote betting is often thought of being for beginners only, or for people who don’t spend hours pouring over the racing pages. It’s a very simple way to bet. You pick a race, and a horse, and make your wager in multiples of £1. You get a ticket (or if betting online a virtual ticket) and if your horse wins, then so do you.

Figures about returns from Tote betting might actually surprise some people. On average, a Tote Win dividend is on average 25% better than the winnings obtained by betting on a horse’s starting price. In addition, the Tote outperforms starting prices 70% of the time for winners with odds that are 7/1 or better.

One final advantage – Tote betting is just about horse-racing. If you use the Tote website, you are not bombarded by options for football, boxing, cricket betting or even casino games. It’s horses and horses only.


Tote betting serves both as a great introduction to the world of horse racing gambling, as well as being a convenient place for the casual gambler to go. If you fit into either of these categories, then Tote Betting should appeal.

Want to find more places to bet on the Tote? Check out our best horse racing betting apps guide here.