Our History

Sportech has a rich history in the Football and Racing industries in both the UK and the US. It is the unique combination of over 92 and 102 years (respectively) in these industries that makes Sportech an organisation that customers, regulators and sporting bodies are proud to work with.

Our history, heritage, trust and responsibility are unrivalled in the industry which has included owning and operating the iconic Football Pools brand which at its peak had over 10 million players every week, owning and operating one of the world’s most trusted technology solutions companies for the global horse racing industry, and donating over £1.1 billion to good causes and charitable initiatives over the years.

Find out more about key dates in our Sportech PLC history timeline:

Where it all began

  • 1913, November

    The World’s first automatic Totalisator machine

    The World’s first automatic totalisator machine (the name for the automated system which runs parimutuel betting) was set up in Ellerslie, Auckland. This kicked off 50 years of development of totalisator machinery.

  • 1917, November

    Automatic Totalisators founded

    Automatic Totalisators Ltd. was founded as an Australian PLC. The organisation was set up to manufacture, install and operate Tote machinery throughout the World.

  • 1923, October

    Littlewoods Pools Company founded

    In the winter of 1923, Littlewoods Pools Company was founded with the first Pools coupons being sold to football fans outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground.

  • 1925, August

    Vernons Pools founded

    Vernons Pools was founded

  • 1939, November

    Aiding the WWII effort

    During the Second World War, The Football Pools companies were committed to helping the national cause and gave the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, freedom to use The Football Pools processing warehouses and its staff for important tasks to help towards the war effort, including making parachutes for our soldiers

  • 1966, November

    World’s first electronic computer totalisator

    In 1966 the World’s first electronic computer totalisator was produced

  • 1979, November

    Automatic Totalisors create North American division

    Automatic Totalisors Ltd (as they became known), created a North American division in 1979 due to the North American business contributing 80% group profits. This division became known as The Autotote Corporation.

  • 1979, November

    Sports Haven opened by the State

    The Sports Haven building was opened by the State

  • 1986, November

    First Football Pools millionaires

    In 1986 the Football Pools reached a fantastic milestone with the very first Football Pools millionaires. Nurse Sister Margaret Francis and ten of her colleagues from Devizes, Wiltshire, became the first Pools millionaires sharing £1,017,890

  • 2007, August

    Sportech announces the £51 million acquisition of Vernons

    In August 2007 Sportech announces the £51 million acquisition of Vernons Pools from Ladbrokes PLC. Sportech already owned and operated Littlewoods and Zetters Pools and, with the addition of Vernons, linked all three brands together to form 'The Football Pools'. Sportech’s consolidation of the UK market enabled the enlarged Football Pools to offer customers even bigger prizes and even better value for money

  • 2008, August

    The Iconic Football Pools Launch Online

    The world’s oldest football gaming brand, and an iconic part of every football fans weekend in the UK with over 15m regular weekly players at its peak, was successfully modernised and launched digitally to customers via online and mobile channels. Footballpools.com offers customers a more convenient way to play the Pools, whilst also introducing many new football pools games, in order to reach a younger and broader customer base.

  • 2010, January

    Sportech agree joint venture with Playwin

    Sportech agreed a joint venture with Playwin, one of the world’s leading lottery providers, to launch a multi-platform sports prediction and fantasy gaming business in India under the brand Sports Hero. Initially Sports Hero offered players free to play sports prediction games, online and on mobile, on sports including cricket, Formula 1, tennis and football. This significantly broadened the range of sports prediction games Sportech could offer customers. With a growing population of 1.2 billion, many of which are fanatical about sports, and with an economy which is expected to grow strongly over the coming years, the potential for a regulated market within India is significant

  • 2010, March

    The Football Pools celebrates biggest payout

    In March 2010, The Football Pools celebrated its biggest ever top prize payout with a massive £4 million paid out in a single weekend of football. Amongst the lucky winners 14 customers shared the top prize of £3 million, each scooping over £214,000. One lucky customer also turned a 71p stake into a £1 million prize which highlights that even 87 years after it was launched, The Football Pools continues to turn small stakes into life changing sums of money

  • 2010, October

    Sportech completes acquisition of Scientific Games Racing

    In October 2010, Sportech PLC completed the £51.4 million acquisition of Scientific Games Racing from Scientific Games Corporation, elevating Sportech to the position of one of the world’s leading suppliers and operators of pools betting. With a focus on the world’s two largest betting sports, football and horseracing, the enlarged Sportech Group has representation in over 30 countries, processing over $13 billion of bets every year

  • 2010, October

    First £3m Football Pools winner

    In October 2010, Michael Elliott, 56, from Brechin in Scotland, wrote himself into the history books by being the first ever £3 million winner on The Football Pools, scooping himself a massive £3,001, 511.

  • 2013, June

    Penn National Gaming contract

    In June, Sportech announced its U.S. division, Sportech Racing and Digital, had signed a six year contract with Penn National Gaming Incorporated, the largest owner and operator of racetrack and associated betting facilities (together with numerous casino and slot machine venues) in the United States. Sportech Racing's contract with PNGI provides betting technology and associated services to numerous PNGI-owned and/or operated properties across nine US States and covers up to 11 racetrack properties, five off-track wagering venues and an Internet and telephone account wagering service

  • 2013, September

    Acquisition of Data Tote Limited

    September 2013 – In September, Sportech announced the acquisition of Data Tote Limited, a leading UK betting operator and technology and services provider focused on the European greyhound and horseracing betting market. Sportech exclusively provides betting services to 41 of the 43 greyhound tracks in the UK and Ireland

  • 2013, October

    Sale of iGaming Brand Vernons.com to Net Play

    Sportech completed the sale of its U.K. facing Vernons.com iGaming brand to Net Play for a total cash consideration of £3m. Sportech successfully launched the trusted Vernons football pools brand online by operating online casino, poker, bingo and instant win games in the highly competitive U.K. iGaming market. 

  • 2013, December

    Joint venture with NYX Gaming Group

    In December 2013, Sportech announced that it had signed a joint venture with NYX Gaming Group Limited to provide online products and services in the US for social and pay-to-play gaming.  As US online gaming regulation evolves, the joint venture will be able to offer a full suite of gaming products including bingo, casino, poker, slots and other games to potential licensees using the NYX platform. These include Sportech's racetrack and casino partners across the US

  • 2013, December

    Agreement with Southern California Off Track Wagering

    In December 2013, Sportech PLC announced that it had signed an agreement with one of the governing bodies for horseracing in California, the Southern California Off Track Wagering, Inc. for a license to allow Sportech to develop and operate up to ten innovative retail venues, offering customers the ability to bet on horseracing in a high-end sports bar and restaurant facility

  • 2014, June

    Sportech acquires Bump Worldwide

    In June, Sportech acquired Bump Worldwide Inc., a Toronto based gaming service provider serving  North American sports teams with team-based electronic lotteries known as “50:50 raffles”. Bump has developed a proprietary, easy to use mobile technology application replacing the traditional paper ticket format. Together with its investment in the Picklive joint venture , this acquisition broadens Sportech beyond horseracing to the North American sports market.

  • 2014, July

    Racing & Digital division wins 10-year Totepool contract

    In July, Sportech announced that its Racing & Digital division had been selected by Betfred to provide a comprehensive suite of new betting technology products to its Totepool business (previously known as The UK Tote).The ten year contract is expected to be worth over £9 million in total revenues. Totepool holds the exclusive licence to operate all Tote betting on British horseracing, which is considered by many to be amongst the best horseracing in the world.

  • 2015, May

    Sportech sells stake in Sportech-NYX for $22.9m CAD

    Sportech PLC sold its 50 per cent stake in Sportech-NYX Gaming, LLC ("SNG") to its joint venture partner NYX Social Gaming LLC for a total consideration of up to CAD$22.9 million (£12.0 million) generating an estimated pre-tax profit on its investment of CAD$16.8 million (£8.8 million).

  • 2015, June

    Sportech Racing and Digital completes first phase of Betfred

    Sportech completed the successful integration of Quantum™ System into Betfred's Totepool business which enables Betfred to simplify their betting systems, whilst also making Totepool products available for distribution to worldwide tote markets. The new digital and self-service technologies are to be deployed in subsequent phases will significantly enhance the customer experience at a racecourse, online or on mobile devices

  • 2016, September

    Sportech Racing and Digital signs the Macau Jockey Club in Asia

    Sportech successfully launched a suite of new pari-mutuel betting technologies for its newest customer in Asia, Macau Jockey Club. Sportech delivered its Quantum™ System – the world's most widely deployed pari-mutuel betting system – along with new BetJet® Aero™ teller-operated betting terminals and new BetJet® SL 2.5 self-service betting terminals to modernize and enhance the customer experiences for the Macau Jockey Club.

  • 2016, December

    Sportech is successful in £97m VAT claim

    Following the Court of Appeal's unanimous judgment in favour of Sportech in relation to its £97m VAT repayment claim on the "Spot the Ball" game, Sportech announced that the Supreme Court has refused Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs ("HMRC") permission to appeal. This now, for Sportech, successfully brought this matter to a close.

  • 2017, June

    Sportech Venues secures licensing approval to increase from 18 to 24 venues

    Sportech announced that it was granted approval to increase the number of wagering venues permitted by the State of Connecticut, from its current license of 18 venues to 24 venues.

  • 2017, June

    Sportech completes the sale of the Football Pools for £83m