Tote Sell Off in Trouble

The European Commission is set to block attempts by the government to transfer the Tote to a trust run by the racing industry. A final decision is expected in six weeks, but government sources and Tote executives have admitted that the sell-off plan is in serious trouble.

Europe's Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, believes that the envisaged sale to the Racing Trust might involve substantial state aid to the sport.

Critics have long held that the sale price of £200m represented half what the Tote would fetch on the open market and that the taxpayer would be shortchanged. Given the popularity of betting, the Tote could garner as much as £600m.

The transfer of the Tote to the Racing Trust is a Labour manifesto commitment. Without a discounted price, racing would not be able to amass the finance to pay for it.

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ATE Online - 2006-03-06 11:35:00

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