Ladbrokes Launches Virtual Casino

19 October 2000
Hilton Gaming's Ladbrokes subsidiary opened the doors to its highly anticipated online casino yesterday at per what the company terms as a "launch in preparation for full-blown push in early December."

"It is exciting that it is up and running," Ladbrokes Head of Communication Andy Clifton said. "We will let it run for a couple of weeks and then get the bugs out before we go into a full launch." Today's opening comes after months of planning, he added.

The new casino, which will also be accessible from Ladbrokes's tax-free betting website at, offers 24-hour gaming on 38 casino games including roulette, blackjack, craps, keno, poker, slots and video poker. The company has adopted a one-account approach that will enable its customers to play at the casino using the same log-in process used to wager at the sportsbook. Players can also use the same account for cash deposits and withdrawals at both sites.

Ladbrokes officials know they're venturing out into a highly competitive market and are confident the company can stake a claim in the online casino arena. "We feel our name alone will carry some weight with visitors to our site," Clifton said. "We are well established and people are going to feel secure with coming to us."

The company hopes its 27casinos in the U.K. and its four outside the U.K. will give the new online casino instant recognition. And if name recognition isn't enough to help Ladbrokes find its niche, Clifton feels a wide variety of offerings will also draw many punters to the site. "We are going to have the best game portal out there," he said. "The casino will really form part of a bigger site. If people want to bet on horses, do some online gaming, or bet on the English soccer games, they will be able to do it all right here."

Ladbrokes will continue to market heavily in Asia and the U.K., but marketing in the United States is not in its immediate plans. "We will not have any U.S. promotion, and that is being done deliberately," Clifton said. "There is a lot of uncertainty in that market. We are being very careful to not take bets from the States."

Further gaming products will be launched this quarter as Ladbrokes's eGaming division develops into a full-scale betting and gaming portal with a range of multi-currency, multi-lingual betting and gaming opportunities.

Ladbrokes Managing Director of eGaming John O'Reilly feels the security offered by Ladbrokes will add to the site's attractiveness, but calls for more regulation in the industry. "Online casino players can now enjoy the security of Ladbrokes, the world's leading betting and gaming," O'Reilly said. "However, there is a clear need for more consistency in the gaming laws to reassure online casino customers, and to ensure their protection."

O'Reilly wants to see online casinos held to the same standards the land-based operations are held to. "All casino site operators should be made to comply with the same criteria required to operate a traditional casino to maximize customer security," he said. "Beyond that we'd like to see the adoption of an international voluntary code that ensures customers know that they are playing with a responsible company they can trust."

The Ladbrokes casino, developed by MicroGaming Systems, operates from the company's licensed operations in Gibraltar, where the company's tax-free telephone betting call center is located. The software is downloadable over the Internet, but customers will eventually be able to request a CD-ROM . The casino will initially be available in English with further languages, including Cantonese, Spanish and Italian, to be launched in coming months.

Ladbrokes betting websites have continued to enjoy strong growth since passing 60,000 registrations at the end of August. One-third of the company's online turnover is derived from the Far East where betting on European football is particularly popular. Its site offers a Cantonese betting service and "Asian Line" handicap betting--the preferred method of betting in the Far East. The company recently announced a number of key partnerships targeting the Asian Market, including football site;, the online service of the South China Morning Post; leading sports website; and leading portal

Clifton wouldn't comment on what its target numbers are for online casino turnover.