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Bodog circles government sale of theTote

A POTENTIAL buyer has emerged for the Tote, just weeks after the government put the bookmaker on the block as part of plans to sell off &pound;16bn worth of state assets to reduce the burgeoning pile of public debt.<br /><br />Bodog Europe &ndash; a franchise of US betting giant Bodog &ndash; is understood to be mulling a bid for the bookie in order to expand its UK horseracing operations.<br /><br />The firm&rsquo;s managing director Keith McDonnell, who was previously managing director of the Tote&rsquo;s online betting arm, is thought to have originally considered starting an online partnership with the Tote.<br /><br />But speculation about the possibility of buying the group for a considerably slimmed-down price means he is now ready to make a full offer.<br /><br />Three years ago, Gala Coral, the UK&rsquo;s third biggest bookmaker, told the government it was willing to stump up &pound;405m for the Tote.<br /><br />McDonnell yesterday refused to comment on his plans, saying: &ldquo;Any internal conversation about a deal remains confidential.&rdquo;<br />The Shareholder Executive, the government department responsible for selling off the assets, was last night unable to comment.