BUSINESS

Ladbrokes new sportsbook flatters to deceive

TAGs: Bet365, Betfair, Bo Dadogg, Chris Bell, Ladbrokes, Nag Me, William Hill

Is it broke, Lads?

Is it broke, Lads?

Ladbrokes today launched a new upgrade of their online sportsbook, with plans to augment the service with over 30,000 sporting events live streamed on the site in 2010 – but early indications suggest they have shot themselves in the foot.

As Dan Taylor reported yesterday, Ladbrokes lost ground on William Hill last month, as a result of the adverse weather conditions that hit their traditionally strong racing market, and they would have been hoping that the new facelift would help encourage business in what promises to be a busy year for sport.

The Magic Sign, who this week revealed that their Chief Executive Chris Bell was stepping down after nine years at the helm, has spent £3m on internet broadcasting rights for sport, including football from 11 countries including Italy, Brazil and Portugal, tennis, including Wimbledon and the Australian Open, which gets under way next week, and cricket in the form of Australian 20/20 league cricket.

Anyone with a Ladbrokes account can view these sports on the new site, while those interested in watching the racing can also do so provided they place a £1 bet. Quid pro quo, Clarisse, as Hannibal Lector once said.

Ladbrokes are also striving to take on Bet365 and Betfair in the in-running stakes as they have recognized its growing importance in the marketplace. According to EGR Magazine, in-play accounted for 43% of the company’s online sports betting turnover. All of these plans are exciting and commendable initiatives – so long as they work.

And here’s the rub. First impressions of the site are that it looks like Bo Dadogg’s dinner.

For starters it’s not as easy on the eye as the old version, secondly, it is nowhere near as easily navigable as it claims. For example, you have to scroll around for Ladbrokes TV, which should be far more obvious to find on the top menu, and then, once you do, there is no ‘Showing Next’ available.

Thirdly, it appears to be riven with various bugs such as scroll bars not working properly, the cricket scorecard not launching and the Live Betting application not allowing more than one event to be viewed at a time.

To the further disappointment of this columnist, probably their best feature, ‘Nag Me’ – an application which would email you to remind you when your favourite horse were running – has disappeared into the ether.

And there’s no point in typing ‘Nag Me’ into their search bar to find it either because there isn’t one. No seriously, what? Yes, there is no search field to look for preferred markets. Whyfore, you ask? Search me…

Obviously, there will always be teething problems with any new roll-out and Ladbrokes deserve some sort of credit for their ambitious attempt to steal a march on Boylesports, who are also set for an imminent reincarnation. But instead of hitting the ground running, they have just hit the ground. The site simply wasn’t ready.

One can only imagine that they wanted the launch to coincide with their Italian poker site which also went live today. Ladbrokes.it has 35,000 registered customers, offers free play Texas Hold ’em tournaments and plans to launch cash games just as soon as regulation permits. Then again, as there is no real money online poker yet – what was the rush?

“The site further reflects the growing importance of betting in-play and live video streaming content,” said Ladbrokes managing director of remote betting and gaming John O’Reilly, presumably before getting around to actually looking at the site for himself. “This initiative, together with further development of our mobile offering and the development of new markets in Europe, will continue the growth.”

Blimey O’Reilly. Don’t hold your breath.

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