Three reasons why Tote Betting is a rort against the average Bettor

by | 10 May 2021


The bookmakers have all the power over bettors, but at Edge Alerter we help members find edge so that members have the odds in their favour.

We also uncover many of the scandalous things the bookies do so that members are more informed of the traps out there.

In this research report, we uncover the three reasons why the TOTE betting system is a rort against the average bettor.

What Is Tote Betting?

Tote betting involves the bettor (or ‘punter’ as we like to term it) wagering with gambling bodies that operate parimutuel betting systems: in Australia, this consists of punting with any of the three TABs (Totalisator Agency Boards).

Australian TABs

Tote organisations differ between states but these are the three major Australian totes:


How the pricing works

The pricing in Totes is purely based on the “weight of money” and bettors typically don’t actually know the price they get until once the race is completed. In the lead up to races starting, the Totes provide an “indicative Tote price” but this is often far from the final Tote price. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that only around 50% of bettors actually realise that the price they see in Totes are “indicative only.” 

A key thing to know is that it’s actually possible to bet for around 5-10 seconds once a race has started.

The benefit of this to bettors is that if they are watching a race with the video stream slightly delayed, then they don’t wonder “why betting was closed before the jump” but see below for a significant downside of this to the average bettor.


1. Bets move prices based on the mechanics of a totalisator system. This makes it impossible to “pick-off” the bookies on their incorrect prices, as the prices are simply determined by the weight of money. The bookie doesn’t actually have to do anything, as the Tote system just prints money for them at a margin of 14-16%.

2. The starts are looked at by syndicates resulting in lower priced winners for bettors. As mentioned above, betting remains open for 5-10 seconds after races jump, and there are betting syndicates that watch the starts of each races and bet significant amounts into Tote pools when they see horses get favourable starts. What this means to the average bettor is that whenever a horse they backed on the tote gets a good start, the horse has reduced odds. If the horse gets an unfavourable start, the boost in price is nowhere near as meaningful since the margin is split across the entire fields.

3. Syndicates know the pricing thresholds. The average bettor can only see the indicative prices, whereas professional syndicates also see the amount of money required to move prices so that they can fully optimise their portfolio of bets on each race.

The end result to the average bettor

  1. The inability to pick-off mispriced runners.
  2. Lower priced winners whenever those horses got a good start.
  3. Higher margin since the syndicates know how to optimise their positions.

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