Tote to accept single football bets

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One of the few significant restrictions on British betting appears to be on the brink of collapse after the Tote announced yesterday that it will accept single bets on non-televised Premiership football matches from this weekend.

One of the few significant restrictions on British betting appears to be on the brink of collapse after the Tote announced yesterday that it will accept single bets on non-televised Premiership football matches from this weekend.

The Tote's move, which seems sure to be followed by their major competitors such as Ladbrokes and Coral, will all but coincide with the abolition of betting tax on 6 October. Previously, punters in high street betting shops have been forced to back teams in a minimum of a treble if none of the matches concerned is being shown on television.

The frequent result of the current restriction is a bet on a team at a working person's price, such as 7-4, coupled with two apparent "bankers", at very short odds. Generations of football punters have grown up knowing the intense frustration of their main selection obliging, only for one of the bankers to let them down.

The minimum-trebles rule was originally introduced as a condition of the betting licence issued to bookmakers by the Football League, as a deterrent to match-fixing. In the top flight at least, though, the salaries players receive are thought to render such fears irrelevant.

With the abolition of betting tax and the availability of singles, betting turnover on Premiership football now seems sure to increase dramatically. With tax, a £10 bet on Liverpool to win at home at odds of 1-2 would cost £10.90 and return £15, if successful ­ making the effective odds closer to 4-11. From 6 October, 1-2 will mean just that.

"In the past, with tax being paid, football odds were often too short to attract single bets," Matt Chapman, the Tote's public relations director, said yesterday. "But with tax disappearing, backing at short odds has now become much more profitable and attractive."

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