Tote Betting: Weighing the Pros and Cons

by | 30 Apr 2022

Tote betting, also known as “parimutuel betting”, is one of the most popular forms of sports betting, especially in sports like horse racing. Seasoned punters will tell you that it offers an exciting approach to wagering on racing events, mostly thanks to its unpredictable nature. 

Compared to traditionally betting on fixed odds, the odds might be a bit more elusive to evaluate, but you’re more likely to walk away with something when it’s down to the wire.

While tote betting has risen in popularity, any sound sports bettor will need to understand that it has its own set of perks and drawbacks as well. In this article, we’ll delve right into the pros and cons of tote betting to help you decide if this type of betting is for you.

Pros of Tote betting

Better odds, higher payouts

One of the best things about tote betting is its potential to yield better odds for better payouts. Unlike fixed odds betting, where you know how much you stand to win before the gun goes off, the tote uses a pool system where odds are determined by the total amount wagered.

This can result in higher odds and potentially bigger payouts, especially when there are only a few winning bets in your group.

Related: Guide to Tote betting: Exotic Bet Types

Sense of community among bettors

Tote betting can be a unique social experience among like-minded bettors. Whether in on-site locations or online platforms, bettors can interact with fellow racing enthusiasts, discuss betting strategies, and engage in friendly competition. 

This social aspect enhances the overall enjoyment of the bettering experience, fostering a sense of community among bettors.

Jackpot opportunities

In tote betting, Tote jackpots are special pools of money that accumulate over time, with a percentage of the wagers being allocated to the jackpot. In this kind of horse racing pool bet, you have to bet on the first six winners during a designated “jackpot tote day”. If you correctly select all six winners, your payout will then depend on how much you staked per line, and how many of those were successful.

These jackpots can even rack up to five-figure winnings! Of course, the possibility of winning big contributes to the allure of tote betting among even the most sceptical and seasoned punters.

Cons of Tote betting

Limited control over odds and payouts

Because the odds aren’t established before the game, individual bettors can’t exactly control the odds and payout structure compared to how they normally could in traditional fixed-odds betting. 

The odds are determined by the betting pool, and bettors won’t be able to lock in specific odds or negotiate terms. While part of the fun of tote betting is being able to strategize with others, this method likely won’t suit you well if you’re a bettor that prefers a more calculated and strategic approach.

Unpredictable payouts

While the potential for better odds may seem attractive, tote betting can come with uncertain results, which could put off more risk-averse bettors. Since final payouts are only determined by the total amount wagered and the number of winning bets, you’ll have to wait until the pool closes before you can estimate how much you stand to win.

It’s because of this that professional bettors and even bookies tend to steer clear of the tote.

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

Lower payout in popular events

Highly popular events with significant betting volumes (like jackpot totes mentioned earlier) often mean the pools are divided among a larger number of winners, meaning a lower payout for everybody. 

Lower payout in long-shot bets

You might think that an easy solution to the previous con would be to simply bet on the least popular outcomes. But here’s the real kicker: choosing to bet on long shots won’t get you much either. As established earlier, your odds in tote betting are determined by the amount of money bet on each outcome. 

If there isn’t much support or money pooled on a specific outcome in the first place, there won’t be much of the winnings to go around either.



Key Takeaways

Pros of Tote betting

  • Better odds, higher payouts
  • Sense of community among bettors
  • Jackpot opportunities

Cons of Tote betting

  • Limited control over odds and payouts
  • Unpredictable payouts
  • Lower payout in popular events
  • Lower payout in long-shot bets


As with many things in life, tote betting is not for everyone. While there are perks, you also shouldn’t ignore the drawbacks of betting on the tote. While some may enjoy the element of unpredictability that comes with tote betting, others may not be too keen on betting without knowing all of the stakes. 


Whether that’s through the thrill of getting into a tote pool without knowing your odds, or through feeling completely secure in all your bets, at the end of the day, it all comes down to your preferences and your own personal enjoyment. 


Get real-time alerts for real chances of winning


Wanna get in on the action? Sign up for Edge Alerter now and gain access to valuable insights, betting tips, and real-time alerts to sport and racing promotions offering a minimum 30% profit—the highest turnover being provided by any tipping service in Australia! No intuition or guesswork is involved, just cold hard data to keep you one step ahead of the bookies!

FREE 7-Day Trial

Try our entire system for free for 7 days.

FREE 7-Day Trial

Try our entire system for free for 7 days.

FREE 7-Day Trial

Try our entire system for free for 7 days.