Government to try again to sell off the Tote bookmakers

City A.M. Reporter
THE GOVERNMENT will launch the sale of the state-owned Tote bookmakers in the late autumn, a minister confirmed yesterday.

The disposal of the Tote, which takes bets on horse racing, football and other sports, forms part of a wider sale of government assets as the country aims to deal with a yawning budget deficit.

“This process will be open to all organisations who have an interest in the Tote and the government expects to be in a position to update the House early in the new year,” said minister for tourism and heritage John Penrose in a statement to parliament yesterday.

“The government will continue to liaise closely with the board of the Tote and with racing interests as this process unfolds.”

Private-sector rivals such as Paddy Power and Ladbrokes have previously said they could be interested.

The Labour government’s attempts to sell Tote were cancelled in 2008 due to poor market conditions. The company was thought to be worth upwards of £300m at the time.

Current chancellor George Osborne announced in his June emergency Budget that he planned a future for Tote that “secures value for the taxpayers”. It will now be put onto the open market.

The High Speed 1 rail link, air traffic control and the student loan book are among the other assets that the coalition government hopes to sell off to pump billions of pounds into the public purse.