A lot has been written recently about the dividends paid out on the tote, highlighted in particular by a few incidents of freak payouts( one to the benefit) but mostly to the detriment of the betting public. Little Sidekick has over 40 years of punting experience and can remember the days when the tote was one of only two ways to bet at the greyhound track or the racecourse. The advent of exchange betting has taken a tremendous amount of revenue from the pockets of the traditional bookmakers. They in turn have looked at ways of maximising revenue by enhancing their internet gambling facilities to sophisticated levels. All of which was bad news for a tote that has had little option but to increase its pool take out to try and bolster its own revenue. The subsequent purchase of the Tote by an independent bookmaker, despite encouraging noises, did little to improve the tote’s and more importantly the punters returns when a further increase in the tote take-out was immediately announced . Now it is clear that the punter has a choice at the racecourse, and it is also true that the rails bookmaker cannot offer the variety of bets that the tote can. These are particularly appealing to the smaller or infrequent racecourse visitor. What is annoying in the extreme, (and I have yet to hear a valid excuse that the practice is not a deliberate one) is the difference in the show of potential returns available on tote screens literally seconds before the off, and the actual payout. Little Sidekick has been the victim of this phenomenon too many times to mention-(once cheering home a 16-1 winner at Towcester only to receive a meagre 8-1 on his Tote ticket) .Recent letters in the Racing Post have echoed this sentiment. The point is that these shows attract a punter to bet on the Tote-if he can get a few points extra then the Tote will have his money rather than the rail bookmakers-common sense.
It is of course naive to expect the dividend finally declared by the Tote matches that advertised on their screens before the off, but surely it has to be close to it and at least reflect the SP ?
Several times bitten, once shy-
Many punters as well as Little Sidekick himself now avoid the Tote as we just cannot trust it to give us value. Until this issue is addressed -in whatever way they see fit- the Tote will continue to lose punters and attract further criticism.