Tote may be bid for by former boss Heaton

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The Independent Online

The former Tote boss John Heaton is set to run the slide rule over the state-owned bookmaker if it gets put up for auction.

Gala Coral has already told ministers that it would be prepared to pay £405m for The Tote, although its preferred option is to pay £325m for the 540 shops with the rest remaining with the Government.

Mr Heaton now runs Interactive Gaming Holdings, an AIM-listed gambling group. While it is too small to bid on its own, it could join forces with a private-equity firm. IGH yesterday signed an agreement with NS sports to offer sports betting on its Betino website, enabling IGH to expand into the Balearic market.

It is understood that while Mr Heaton has no firm plans, he would be interested in looking at The Tote if went to auction. A bid from a consortium of racecourses has already been rejected. The Department for Culture Media & Sport said it was seeking to "ensure that racing benefits" from the sale.

Gala Coral values the Tote's internet, telephone and pool betting businesses at £80m. But a leading racecourse group source said there was "no way" racing would be prepared to pay that much.