INTERVIEW OF ALEX FROST, CEO OF UK TOTE GROUP
1 – When and how was the Tote created ?
It was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1928. The legislation was led by Sir Winston Churchill when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was owned by the Government until 2011, then sold to a bookmaker and the UK Tote Group bought the Tote in October 2019. We have more than doubled the size of the team to over 120 people since then and have ambitious growth plans.
2 – What is the most popular bet for customers of the Tote?
The Tote Placepot is the most popular bet on horseracing in the UK. Players have to pick a horse(s) to be placed (1st to 3rd, or 1st or 2nd if the race has less than 8 runners) in 6 races. For a small sum there can be some big pay-outs!
3 – What’s the most exciting development at the Tote at the moment?
We have recently launched football pools on our website – tote.co.uk – to help expand our reach to new customers, as well as continuing to improve the Tote’s first App which went live last year. We’re also working on some very exciting price innovations, critical amidst the ever more competitive UK environment.
Finally, and most importantly, comingling is the main focus between all of our respective WoTA country partners. Our ambition has to be to make the extraordinary advantages presented by the common pools that bring us all together, a regular consumer engagement.
4 – What’s your ambition for the Tote?
The UK has some of the best horseracing in the world, but the finances of the sport do not match the quality of the racing. We are keen to work with partners, including importantly other WoTA members, to increase pool betting on horseracing so we can be part of helping horseracing in the UK continue to thrive in the years ahead.
5 – What’s the greatest challenge for the Tote at the moment?
The UK is undergoing a review of the gambling laws which have been in place since 2005 so we can expect some regulatory changes in the months and years ahead which clearly creates a level on uncertainty I am sure we are all familiar with.
6 – What is the added value of WoTA for the Tote?
We are very proud to be founding members of WoTA and be working alongside our fellow pool betting operators around the world. It provides a valuable opportunity to share best practice and discuss how we can all work together to grow and enhance the pool betting experience, both for customers and sport.
7 – What is your role inside WoTA?
I am a board member and leading the AML Working Group. Members of the Tote team are supporting this, as well as being involved in the Increased Liquidity in Healthy Pools Working Group.
8 – When and how did you become Chief Executive of the Tote?
I spent nearly two decades working in the City and saw how global markets developed between countries. Pool betting has a similar operational approach and so I wanted to apply my learning to maximise the potential of the Tote. It was fortunate timing as we were able to purchase the Tote in 2019 and we are as proud members of WoTA!
9 – What do you do when you are not being the Chief Executive of the Tote?
I also run a stud farm, so I love going to see our mares and talking to the team about our breeding plans. I also have 4 children so there is plenty to keep me busy away from work.
10 – What’s the best sporting event you have ever attended or enjoyed?
I enjoy watching all sports, but horseracing is where my heart is. I was lucky enough to be at Belmont Park in the US when Justify won the Triple Crown in 2018 which was very special. Though sadly not in attendance, we also derived great pleasure from seeing Soft Whisper win the UAE 1,000 Guineas this week. She is the full sister to our mare, Empress Consort, who will be visiting Frankel in a few months’ time.