James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Thu May 23 19:59:05 UTC 2002

In a message dated Thu, 23 May 2002  2:54:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Bapopik at AOL.COM writes:

>TOTALIZATOR--Used in horseracing and seen several places.  Is
>it a word or a brand name?  From the French "totalisateur"?

If I remember correctly, it is a brand name of the American Totalizator Company and refers to the mechanical or electrical calculators (long since replaced by computers, I am sure) that were used to tabulate all the bets so that the odds could be computed.  Familiarly known as the "Tote board".

In the US, the payout on a horse race is the total bet divided by the bet on the horse in question, multiplied by two so as to
reference the standard two-dollar bet, and rounded to the next lower 20 cents.  The amount removed from the payout by the rounding process is called the "breakage" and is the payment to the track for operating the betting system (there is no house percentage, just the breakage.)  One exception---if the correct odds are such that the mathematical payout is less than $2.20 on a $2 bet, you have the situation called "odds on" and the track makes up the difference out of its own pocket.

     - Jim Landau

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