HC Deb 27 November 2003 vol 415 c18WS
The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn)

The Government remains committed to the sale of the Tote, and we plan to bring forward the necessary legislative proposals very shortly.

As part of the preparations for the sale, the Government has had to consider whether the Tote's current exclusive right to offer pool betting on British horseracing should continue once it has been transferred into the private sector. We have concluded that it will be in the public interest to open up the pool betting market to effective competition, but that a reasonable preparatory period is necessary in order to safeguard the policy aims underlying the sale.

The Government has therefore decided that if our plans to sell the Tote to a racing consortium proceed, then the current intention is to issue the Tote's successor company with an exclusive licence to operate horserace pool betting on British racing for seven years.

This licence will not be extended and at the end of that period there will be a new regulatory regime that will allow other operators to provide pool betting as well. We believe that this proposal provides necessary certainty for all concerned.