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You Can Have Your Cake…

SP reader says the tote must talk to customers

In an open letter to three high-profile trainers refers to the ‘Politics of Dancing to the tune of the Phumelela Tote umbrella – Interbet Promo’.

May I, in the politest possible manner, suggest or request that you rather avail yourselves to a TV commercial in which you encourage the various Tote Operators to recognize, respect and analysis the patronage of their depleted client base and migratory trends of lost punters.

I feel it is a touch “rich” of you to coach, for the want of a better word, punters about how their hard-earned cash assists the stakes pool when the Tote hierarchy and business model has been a complete failure way back then, now and tomorrow.

I bet with Hollywood locally and utilize the Open Bet – however I believe that the Open Bet legislation is bad for racing.

But here’s the thing – and you can massage it anyway you want, but my conscious is clear as I continue to encourage old, current and new punters NOT to support the Tote due to their continuous arrogance & total disdain of their punting clients.

The second the Tote launches an interactive, perpetual and survey-based marketing programme interfaced to all tote account holders, I will gladly return all my patronage back to the TOTE.

Let’s hope that my observation hasn’t taken all the jam out of your doughnuts, Gentlemen.

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26 comments on “You Can Have Your Cake…

  1. MichaelMGJ says:

    I have to agree with William Milkovitch. For the past 35+ years I punted with the tote and also had a telebet account. Since the lockdown and closure of the totes, I now bet with Hollywood. Most of my friends have World Sports Betting accounts. I play all my exotics and other bets through the Open bet. As an example, this Saturday past I played a R1000 pick 6 and a R250 PA, all through the open bet.

    The reason for this is the sheer ease and slick service one gets through the Bookmaker online compared to the shambolic tote and telebet experience! The tote is like a spaza shop compared to the bookmaker online! First let Saftote get their act together, sort out their tote staff and telebet system and MAYBE I would consider going back to tote betting. The tote is outdated, haven’t embraced modern technology and the service is pathetic. Trying to deposit or withdraw your money through telebet is like extracting teeth! With Hollywood your eft is done in 10 seconds!

    As punters we owe the tote nothing! They should be falling over their feet trying to attract and retain us as customers. Getting high profile trainers to beg us to bet with the tote is a joke! What pathetic marketing! Rather get those trainers to tell us about loyalty programs, betting vouchers and what the tote is going to do for us as loyal and committed customers! Let the trainers tell us how Saftote is going to upskill and train their staff on customer service, and a simple thing like respecting the punters!

    Until such time, not one cent of my money will go through the tote pools!

  2. Graham HJ.... says:

    The covert cash cow…..

  3. Rod Mattheyse says:

    jacking the Tote up may be counter productive to the rescue operations real goal of rubber stamping the deal!

  4. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…
    William you are 100% correct,, they don’t know how to look after punters,, they haven’t got a clue, if anything it’s getting worse,, Telebet, betting world, sis man,, but not for long,, the takeover is coming swiftly.. You know like the sounds of Hawwaam breathing down your neck,, whoever is in charge of betting right now and looking after us as punters,, won’t have a job on 1 August 2020 and that goes for many other divisions too but I won’t get into that now, that story will be for another as an open letter to Mr Ed because FMG do I have info as what is going on right now it’s scary and people still have their jobs? This business Practioner doesn’t sound too proactive to me after stories and emails I’ve seen… anyway..
    William,, you don’t smash up your butcher if he refuses to cut the meat to your preference or perfection, right ? Because if you keep smashing him up there’s no more meat to buy because you’ve wiped him out..You could argue I’ll go to another butcher, there’s only one problem with that you dumb fish,, is that the butcher you smashed up is the only man paying the farmers!! The other butchers don’t pay the farmers but get the benefit of the off cuts (let’s call it that) to sell to their clients so they can afford to offer a greater price because they not paying full price you stupid dumb fish!
    I go back to the beginning you are right,, the service we get from the tote is disgraceful,, but open your eyes and see the bigger picture.. Luckily for us MOD can afford to buy them all out and put professionals to run our game,, not 70 year old hacks,, to run the show.. Then when all bookmakers realise that you against the best,, punters will come back to the tote and then racing can pay for itself and increase stakes so that we have enough horses to bet on in a race unlike in some places where there are 4 and 5 horse fields!!
    Now promise me one thing William,,promise me,, that you won’t smash up the only butcher who pays the farmers for all the other butchers to leech onto and suck it dry again,, because I can promise you there’s no one else in the queue behind MOD to make sure all the costs are paid and racing survives!
    I thought I was stupid,, and I am I must be honest I was born in a stable and that’s all I know but you don’t need a degree to work out why the OPEN BET is poison poison poison!! And any owner who bets with a bookmaker and doesn’t demand that he’s bet goes into the tote then you are equally responsible for the poor service provided for by the tote and you are the reason why Stakes are where they are today – you poor fishes!!Not if But Or Maybe Racing is going to fly with MOD on board…Support Our Totes and Not the OPEN BET we need money to be pumped back into out game,,and not for the money to vanish into one man’s account


    Thanks Gents for your comments & Mr. Editor for re-posting.

    The very first thing trainers state on TV interviews is that without the Punter or the Punter/Owner or the Punter/Owner/Trainer there is no game.

    So trainers, we all know about stakes coming from the tote pools. Isn’t that then enough reason for trainers to “kick arse’s” and be more vocal about the rubbish /non-existent customer service and poor off-course betting facilities.

    These conditions exist particularly for those that don’t have a voice or access to these types on racing media platforms.

    Every R10 counts.

    Alas, the TOTE’s attitude & apathy towards it’s customers has been the single most damaging factor to the demise of racing and to gamblers going elsewhere.

    I remember when Sun City was new and people went to try it out. We still went to the Tote office in the entertainment centre when racing was on and then returned to the tables in the evening.

  6. Roy Kasseepersadh says:

    Good Day. This is the third time I am asking Punters to form some kind of Association. I don’t want to get into the debate about respect for the punter by the betting outlets. Market forces will in the end decide who’s going to survive. The simple reason is that MONEY is involved. All the bets, small and large, add up to a huge amount. The people placing the bets need to be protected besides respected. To make a comparison. Cell phone companies have huge turnovers. Made from millions of small amounts.

  7. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Indeed. Thank you Mr Ed, William for tweeking it a bit
    Before I could comment it was off air, Load shedding maybe. I gave you a full 10 elsewhere.

    True story, what you say is 100% correct

    I left the tote a long time ago, I know they don’t miss me, but as Oom Pik Potha used to say. ” I categorically state, I don’t miss them either ”

    Geez, that’s s a big word for any boertjie, of hoe Pieta ?

    Here is a Positive suggestion though, no jokes

    HWBets take over all the Totes in KZN. Them compared to our totes is like PostNet vs The Poskantoor

    Phumelela, geez I am not sure how to help them…

  8. Pieta Louw. says:

    Wow Cecil, n moerse woord!…..gelukkig het ek gesit….met n glasie druiwe sap…😀
    Maar jys reg…ek week nie eers waar n tote is nie…..stel al jare nie belang nie.

  9. Graeme Hawkins says:

    Okay, so I am going to take the bait. These trainers are specifically promoting Interbet and I have to put it out there that I have never had a bad experience with either their site or their service.


    Well Graeme, if you can’t read or don’t want to read my plea with thought, then the bait will be uncomfortable in your mouth.

    It has nothing to do with the service of Interbet, or are you one of those many administrators that purport that you have nurtured your Tote customers ?

    Did I mention Interbet’s service record anywhere ?

    Other readers and punters, never let anyone tell you that you are not good for the game when you voice your dissatisfaction about the total failure of the Tote Operators to keep their customers.

  11. Chris Evans says:

    I am not really sure what all the fuss is about the totes or the telephone betting service because I have not used either for many years.I use my tabgold account on line and with maybe one or two small problems on very big days it has been seamless.This is the 21st century.Really?Get up to date guys.If I want a serious gamble on the nose I phone a bookmaker because of the size of the win pools.All exotics should be tote only

  12. donald bradshaw says:

    Chris Evans , you make a huge mistake in ” talking down ” to the walk in tote customers ?

    Just compare the pools before and after the totes were opened to the ” walk ins ” as the proof of my point !

    I myself am a cash and ” walk in ” customer and am by the way still not in the market due to not being able to purchase a Computerform that I can read and hold in my hand ?

    Call it old school but you will be surprised at the amount of us out there waiting for service from the industry leaders who do not know and do not care for their customers !

    Graham Hawkins , because Interbet gives you a good experience does not mean the industry leaders , of which you are one , ignore 40 % of your client base by giving us bad service at your tills and bricks and mortar outlets !


    There you go, Mr Donald Bradshaw certainly grasps the bigger picture more than adequately.

    The walk-in punters business foot-print (forgive the pun) couldn’t have been more clearly illuminated in this first 3 weeks of racing which has resumed behind closed doors.

    The Tote pools were way down showing how many punters choose not to bet online/electronically/mobile.

    These are the clients that have suffered & been neglected the most by the three TOTE BETTING operators and their hierarchy… for +15 years !

  14. Sherwin Naidoo says:

    Racing …the only industry that has the audacity to blame its customers for choosing competitors. The open bet is a legal transaction and I will continue playing this with my bookie. I owe Horseracing nothing and nobody can dictate to as to how I choose to use my hard earned cash. I have not placed a bet on the tote in over 10 years. It is not the punters who should see the bigger and ensure the wheels keep turning, but rather the tote tellers and management who don’t treat punters as customers. Gone are the days when you can just rely on the gambling addiction of the punter to bring him back the next day. There are many less stressful ways these day to get your daily gambling thrill with soccer, lucky numbers etc. The bookies are streets ahead in terms of customer service, perks as well as the overall experience.

  15. Leon Smuts says:

    This is a very difficult issue for operators and the solution is not as straightforward as the theory suggests.

    I have personally spent (misspent) many years in Totes and over the years very few things have changed except perhaps one which is vital. The attitude and knowledge of staff has changed dramatically and this needs to be addressed as it is a game changer. Totes were never really clean places but there used to be a friendly atmosphere which was strong enough to make you overlook all the other shortcomings. Staff needs to be more helpful and friendly as this is so important in making the client feel welcome and appreciated.

    What we need to acknowledge though is that morale has been very low for many years because of the fading fortunes of racing and staff constantly works in an environment of retrenchments and low salaries and tiny, if any, increases to their packages. This has and will do little to inspire the workforce to a greater commitment to service and it becomes an unchecked downward spiral which will be very hard to reverse.

    Back to the opening line of the difficulty for operators. i have no doubt that many will disagree with me but I truly believe that operators would love to offer a better service to their customers but are financially unable to do this. When turnover is static or dwindling and costs rising on the other side and competition continuing to grow, something has to give, and regrettably what we are seeing is the result.

    The solution is that the operator must move away from the bricks and mortar model to an online model which most industries today are forced to do anyway given the changing needs of customers. A couple of tote outlets should remain in areas that are easily accessible by the majority of current walk in customers and it should be a priority to convert these players to online over time. These outlets should be staffed by marketing orientated people who would need substantial knowledge of products as well as systems to get customers onto preferred channels.

    These outlets should over time become information and conversion centers rather than gambling places and marketing of racing should become their priority. The sport cannot spend a great deal of money on a physical footprint given its constraints but it has to concentrate on providing the less affluent punter with affordable alternatives.

    Important aspects in turning racing around is how to reach out effectively to a more diverse customer base,how to better take care of the existing customer and even more importantly how to keep the tote offering relevant.

    The digital era is a reality that needs to be embraced and should be supported as it can ultimately free up funds for better service and better returns to customers.

    Its only success in growing the tote customer base that will get a better deal for everybody and this is the challenge that operators face and that should become a priority in strategic thinking.

  16. Dayalan Moodley says:

    What does this appeal to punters to stop supporting the open bet offered by bookmakers really achieve? Is it a genuine request and if so, why is directed to the consumer and not the authorities?

    If the Minister of Transport made an appeal to all South Africans to desist from supporting Uber (and Taxify) because THEY are taking business away from our metered taxis and also from minibus taxis and Prasa, such an appeal will leave you somewhat confused. If he goes on criticise Uber, notwithstanding the fact that they comply with all laws and regulations of the country, for not paying higher tariffs and taxes for operating in RSA – which of you Uber users will heed his call? The Minister and his party/government has all the power and authority to regulate Uber and the industry. Why the need for grandstanding at the podium when he and his team should be engaging Uber and parliament to address the perceived structural deficiencies that Uber is exploiting.

    The bottom line is we have HollywoodBets, WSB and other bookmakers offering an Uber product and service to the industry for well over a decade. Let’s say that they are in the Green corner, having made significant investments in IT infrastructure, created front office and back office employment for many, and most importantly, they have developed a compelling product offering and service for a substantial client base in compliance with the laws of this country.

    In the Red corner, we find our three operators, together with the RA, the NHA and other industry bodies, who own the racing product and the IP (they are the authorities) and they, like the Minister of Transport, are not happy that their METERED TAXI solution has passed its sell by date and their business model looks more like a fossil that has no place in the digital and customer-centric world that it operates in.

    What I truly don’t understand about this call to punters to stop supporting the open bet, is that Bookmakers turnover from the open bet is an absolute fraction in relation to their turnover generated from fixed odds bets on horse racing. Why are there no calls for all bets (including fixed odds) to be placed with the operators? Or are the operators intimating that that its okay for the Bookmaker to lay a fixed odds bet (and not compensate the industry) but not for an open bet!

    Personally, I have been playing the open bet with bookmakers for the past 20 years and their product and service stands head and shoulders above what the operators have to offer. Convenience and the customer service offering is what Bookmakers have mastered over decades to own the customer base that was previously the property of TAB.

    So, why is it that suddenly the open bet is seen as the savior of the industry? I suspect that the METERED TAXI OPERATORS have no other solution but to resurrect and default to funding model (Stakes Agreement) that relies almost entirely on the punters spend. What the authorities need to do is to find an Uber Stakes solution and re-engineer their respective businesses. THE OPEN BET IS NOT THE SOLUTION. Try and look at the value chain in the industry and look at what are the Breeders and Trainers contributing to the Stakes Agreement. Do a back of the matchbox calc and between these two parties, OWNERS pay them in excess of R700 million annually. Breeders have not contributed adequately to the Stakes pot or the industry, yet the operators have to put on the show (WITH STAKES) so that Breeders can sell their product. Is there a reason why a percentage of the annual/monthly revenue of Breeders/Trainers should not find its way into the Stakes pot?

    PS. Have any of the operators approached MOD with their financial projections depicting the shortfall in the Stakes pot for the next year or two? If not, why not? If you want to stabilise the industry, the leadership in the Red corners need to stop living off it and take a lesson from the Green corner how to live for it. Messrs Heffer (HWB) and Tannous (WSB) each wear one hat and they are not confused about their business strategy and their businesses that operates 24/7. Neither of them are offering their services as Bloodstock Agents, Sectional Timing Instrumentation Experts, Banqueting and Food Services Specialists. Or are they?

  17. Leon Smuts says:

    Good points Dayalan, food for thought.

  18. Leon Smuts says:


    Regarding your comment on breeders I believe that they are contributing perhaps more than we realise. Quality stock makes for quality racing and from what I have read there are very few breeders who actually make a lot of money. Breeders do sponsor many races and advertise quite a bit which provides some revenue and they are instrumental at keeping our racing profile world class at a great cost to themselves.

    What I like about your summation though is that everybody should be contributing to the growth and maintenance of racing and that perhaps more can be done by all that financially benefits from the sport.

    It is also really important that every cog in the wheel should take a greater responsibility for the promotion and marketing of racing and that a collective effort is required to grow the sport again.

  19. Jay August says:

    “Breeders have not contributed adequately to the Stakes pot or the industry, yet the operators have to put on the show (WITH STAKES) so that Breeders can sell their product. Is there a reason why a percentage of the annual/monthly revenue of Breeders/Trainers should not find its way into the Stakes pot?”

    Dayalan, you will need to explain this as I cannot understand your logic.

    I can support your thesis that the model of funding needs evolution but moving funds from A and B to C and then back to B and D with C taking a cut and A hopefully getting some back sounds like a twisted theory of the positive trickle down effects of the velocity of money.

    What exactly have you achieved by confiscating sales proceeds from breeders and fees or stakes from trainers in order to top up a pot, only then to confiscate a portion again from the resulting disbursements?

    To my mind this is a solution tailor made for graft and lack of productive effort on behalf of several parties in the value chain. It might well have the the exact opposite effect to that you seek.

  20. MichaelMGJ says:

    The racing industry model in SA needs a complete rethink. The debate and acrimony about the Open-bet, dwindling tote revenues and shrinking punter base will go on forever.

    I think for SA racing to survive, a radical transformation is required (Lol)! But not involving the EFF! Rather, let each party do what they do well. Let the racing operators put on the show- ie stage the race meetings, provide the product. Let the bookmaking companies sell the product- marketing, stores, online, betting. No totes, only bookmaker stores. The bookmakers run their pools, their open bets and all their betting, the exotics (including swingers exactas, trifectas and quartets go through the bookmaking companies to a joint pool that declares final dividends. All other bets ( win, place, doubles, etc) is solely available through the individual bookmaker.the bookmakers pay a legislated percentage of their gross to the operators to provide the product and pay the stakes.

    The model requires lots of thought and enabling, but it is doable and might just save the industry in the long run!

  21. Dayalan Moodley says:

    @Leon and Jay, limited options, if any, are available to the industry to address the current funding model. If Breeders, Owners and Trainers are not prepared to contribute to a new funding model, then the industry is will continue on its current trajectory. Two of the operators are technically insolvent and there there is every indication that the third operator is well on its way to get there in the near future.

    The Turnover (volumes) from punters are at its all-time low and the betting turnovers are inadequate to fund the stakes pot. So, what are we solving for:

    We have an upstream segment of the industry that invests in stud farms and stock to produce thoroughbred. The downstream segment of the industry has failed. These are not assumptions nor fantasies. These are facts. So, if you are an upstream investor and there is no market (or very limited demand for your product), would it be an irrational investment decision to invest in developing the downstream segment? If Breeders are unwilling to seed the stakes pot to revive and sustain the industry, then the industry is doomed unless the owners are going to make their contribution to the stakes pot to save the upstream and downstream segments! Let’s just say that the liquidity and appetite of owners are also at an all-time low, evidenced reports from some recent dispersal sales. Somehow, I don’t think Owners are going to step up to do this on their own. My suggestion that trainers contribute a percentage of their turnover (let’s say as part of the new licencing regime, as a holder of a trainer’s licence) would be palatable given where the industry is heading. If the licencing fee that trainers are currently paying is a threat to the sustainability of their businesses, you would have heard that complaint by now.

    Notwithstanding their paltry stakes pot that was allocated to the Northern Cape, ask any Kimberley trainer whether they would be prepared to contribute a percentage of their turnover, as trainers, to resume racing at Flamingo Park, or the alternative is favoured?

    If you are a Breeder, Owner and or a Trainer and you are not prepared to contribute to make sacrifices to sustain your industry, why should the industry exist? If you are seeing this as a tax to punish the said individuals, remove your headgear.

  22. Dayalan Moodley says:

    @Jay, I’m not entirely sure what explanations you are looking for if you have concluded that my suggestion “is tailor made for graft or lack of productive effort” when in fact I have neither disclosed what the governance framework would entail, the internal controls, the level of transparency in the model nor the implementation framework.

    PS. Graft is par for the course in an industry that over the past two decades was built and taken to dizzy heights and to the current depths, purely on graft.

  23. Jay August says:

    Dayalan, you subtly and expediently move your argument from a stakes pot in your first comment to a funding model in your second comment.

    Voluntary investment in the downstream activity is an understandable suggestion but, I fail to understand what you achieve by the (forced) subsidising of disbursements (Stakes Pot) from the downstream activity through a levy imposed on the upstream activity and certain parties to the downstream activity?

    Below, as an example, is a statement you make which I have difficulty understanding. What exactly are you proposing below? How is the money so raised invested or utilised within the industry and what current usage and or investment does it replace? What additional investment and/or funding does it provide?

    “My suggestion that trainers contribute a percentage of their turnover (let’s say as part of the new licencing regime, as a holder of a trainer’s licence) would be palatable given where the industry is heading. If the licencing fee that trainers are currently paying is a threat to the sustainability of their businesses, you would have heard that complaint by now.”

  24. Dayalan Moodley says:


    You are confusing yourself with your own questions. At no stage was I suggesting anything other than funding of the stakes pot? So, if you are having difficulty understanding and questioning what , why and how funding is being raised and what purposes its will be deployed for, then I think you have migrated onto another discussion that I was not formerly a party thereto or you are very confused..

    Maybe this might be of assistance to you in articulating what exactly is a fundamental flaw with my original suggestion.:

    “If as a collective, the Owners Association/s met with the Breeders Association/s and the Trainers Association/s and they discussed, agreed and resolved that:

    1) As Trainers, we will contribute x% of our turnover to the stakes pot;
    2) As Breeders, we will contribute y% of our turnover to the stakes pot;
    3) As Owners, we are fully supportive of 1) and 2) above. ”

    What advice/views would you as Jay, impart to each of these above mentioned groupings to highlight the fundamental flaws in their decision to give effect to 1) to 3) above?

  25. Jay August says:

    Dayalan, I understand the mechanics of your “funding stakes pot”, which is how I understood it from comment 1. Comment 2 added components and wording which appeared in conflict.

    Your question is somewhat loaded in that it presumes that all individuals within the three groupings have already agreed to cede their rights to their individual collectives, which in turn now propose agreeing amongst themselves on a contribution into a stakes funding pot. I proceed, therefore, by ignoring that separate collectives exist.

    1 can be achieved by trainers reducing their training fees and agreeing to a reduced takeout from the existing stakes pot. Why would trainers need to contribute to a stakes pot when the redistribution of the additional funding can be accomplished through a voluntary exchange between owner and trainer? What does the funding collective offer that 1 and 2 cannot negotiate on a voluntary and individual basis?

    2 occurs through a number of breeder led or agreed initiatives, either through breeder trade associations, breeder sponsored races, and/or sales companies. These initiatives are voluntary and aimed at promoting the sale of 2’s produce. How would your funding collective improve the existing voluntary exchange between 3 and 2?

    I am unconvinced that the stakes pot funding collective offers any upside which cannot be voluntarily negotiated by the individuals in groups 1,2 and 3.

    Convince me that the funding collective offers real advantages to each individual which would encourage them to cede some of their existing rights to the funding collective, either individually or through their group collectives.

  26. Dayalan Moodley says:

    Jay, you continue to confuse yourself and migrate further away from what you should be applying you mind.

    You have chosen to sidestep the question posed:

    “What advice/views would you as Jay, impart to each of these above mentioned groupings to highlight the fundamental flaws in their decision to give effect to 1) to 3) above?”

    I have only read the first two paragraphs of your last post and yet again you confuse yourself further with terminology that either you misunderstand or confuses you to no end. We are on the subject matter of the parties assuming obligations to pay a portion of their turnover to fund the stakes pot. You have migrated to parties agreeing “to cede their rights”.

    My rhetorical questions to you:

    1) Do you understand the difference of rights and obligations? The former is irrelevant to what we are discussing; and

    2) Do you understand anything about an out and out cession or a cession in securitatem debiti – both of which are irrelevant to what we are discussing.

    It make no sense why you would suddenly introduce ceding of rights into the conversation.

    Move onto another thread where the basic fundamentals of the subject matter is less confusing than the one at hand.

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