The Tote is to be auctioned on the open market, the Government has announced. Gala Coral are being tipped as favourites to buy the business. Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe has today (Wednesday) formally rejected a bid of £320m from a racing industry consortium.
Sutcliffe will now appoint advisers to look at strategic options for the sale. Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture Media and Sport, was forced to hand over responsibility for the sale to avoid any conflict of interest as the Tote’s Wigan headquarters are based close to his constituency (MW 21 February).
Gala Coral chief executive Neil Goulden has indicated that he intends to make a bid, thought to be in the region of £400m, for the business. The Tote owns 540 betting shops as well as racecourse pool betting kiosks. The addition of the Tote’s retail outlets would allow Gala Coral to compete with Ladbrokes and William Hill.
There is also speculation that the business may be broken up into separate elements that will be sold individually.