Penrose takes strategic role at Tote suitor
Ian Penrose is among the big names from the betting industry recruited to lead the group looking to take control of the UK’s Tote.
Alizeti has named the former Sportech and Arena Leisure CEO as strategic and operations advisor. The group bought 25% of the Tote from Betfred as part of a £150m (€170m/$195m) deal earlier this year, with an option to purchase 100% in the future.
Penrose’s arrival will boost the organisation's links with the racing industry as it continues its discussions with Britbet, the potential rival pool betting operator owned by 55 British racecourses that put its launch on hold in June after it began talks over a possible collaboration with Alizeti.
iGamingBusiness.com understands that Alizeti is positive about the progress of its discussions with BritBet, and that its acquisition plans remain on course. It is thought the discussions centre on the possibility of the latter running on-course pool betting.
Other names that have been added to Alizeti’s leadership team include Jamie Hart, the head of product who was formerly executive director at Tabcorp, director of innovation at William Hill and trading director at Gala Coral. Emma Crowe, head of marketing, has joined the group following senior roles at Paddy Power Betfair, PokerStars and Marks and Spencer.
Commenting on the team, Alex Frost, Alizeti’s CEO, said in a statement: “We have ambitious plans to grow the Tote and to achieve this it is essential we build a world-class team of dedicated people who are focused on ensuring it has a successful future.
“I am really excited by the team we are putting together which has individuals who bring vast experience and expertise from a range of sectors.”
Betfred bought the Tote in 2011 for £265m. Just before its seven-year monopoly came to an end on July 13, it sold 25% of the business to Alizeti.
In June, Britbet announced that its board had unanimously agreed to a delay on the launch of its service.
Britbet chairman Neil Goulden said at the time that the talks with the Tote are illustrative of the company’s vision of maximising investment for partner courses and taking control of pool betting on course.
Goulden added: “With those principles secured, we are able to explore ways in which we may be able to work with an invigorated Tote to deliver the best product and service for our racecourse partners and ultimately for racegoers.
“This agreement is clearly aligned with our 'by racing, for racing' proposition and, thanks to the hard work of the Britbet board and team, I am delighted that we have secured those key aspects which now enable us to consider ways of working in partnership with others.”
In an interview with the Owner Breeder website earlier this year Frost, a former banker who owns horses, said he wants the Tote to aim for up to 10% of the UK betting market from its current 4%.