Something new! The Australian bookmaker market exploded a few years back, but it’s now been a while since there’s been a new major entrant. That’s changed with the arrival of Neds.
Being a brand-new bookie start-up, there isn’t a huge amount of history to speak of.
Neds is the new operation for Brisbane entrepreneur Dean Shannon. Yes – it’s an Aussie operation, not another import from the UK.
Shannon has a long and very successful history not just in bookmaking, but internet businesses in general. He initially made a lot of money in the… ahem... “adult entertainment” areas of the web, before moving into bookmaking.
He started bookmaker.com.au in 2012, which proved to be popular with punters early on due to its easy-to- use interface and quality promotional offers. Just a year later in 2013, bookmaker.com.au was purchased for $22.5 million by UK giant Ladbrokes as part of their aggressive push into the Australian market. As part of the deal,
Shannon took over as CEO of the Australian operations of Ladbrokes. After leaving Ladbrokes Mr Shannon had a non-compete agreement, which has clearly just expired and he’s back and ready to launch Neds, just in time for the Spring Carnival!
Website Layout, Mobile Usability and App
We’ve checked out both the desktop website and app, and the early signs are good.
Bookmaker.com.au was Dean Shannon’s last bookie start-up, and it was always well regarded in terms of the user experience for the punter – it’s one of his areas of expertise. So there’s some level of expectation there when it comes to Neds, and it looks to be a positive start.
A word to start with: yes, it’s a brand-new website, so yes, there may be a few very minor glitches to start with.
This is always the case when going live with a new site with many users (just ask anybody who’s been involved in a site launch)! Sometimes it’s hard to see which parts break until a lot of people jump on it. With that said, the only really glitch we’ve experienced so far is a small issue with the display of our bonus bet balance in the ‘My Account’ page. The bonus bets were still available for use in the betslip, so it’s not a big deal, and a quick Live Chat with the folks at Neds assured us it’d be resolved. The site also went down on a couple of occasions on the first day or two (which again, is to be expected), but the outages were very brief and not at critical times.
In terms of the desktop site itself… it’s unmistakable, which is a good start branding-wise! The orange hits you in the face along with the “It’s time to bet!” tagline.
Just on that: you mightn’t think much of it as a punter, but colour recognition is actually fairly important.
When you’re trying to place a bet quickly and need to find a bookmarked button, or an app logo on your phone, having one that stands out from the dozens of others does indeed makes things quicker. Orange is a good choice – TopBetta are the only other Aussie bookmaker who really use it.
Moving to the homepage itself, it actually strikes you how clean and simple it is compared to many other bookies, who can overwhelm the punter with what seems like a million different menus, buttons and images. The main hero menu to the left simply consists of Racing, Sport, Live In Play, Promotions and My Account, which covers everything you’d need to get to quickly. There’s then a smaller menu below it with all current major events (both sport and racing), making them easy to get to for when you’re honing into that big match or race.
There’s also a dynamic bar along the top which shows the next few races to jump – fairly standard, but important nonetheless when you’re racing to beat the jump – and then some larger frames with full fields etc for upcoming races. The biggest, most prominent frame is reserved for a rolling display of current promos and specials. That’s perhaps not the most important item for more serious punters, but it shows their points of difference and will probably change as the business settles in.
Races are simple to navigate, with the standard matrix of today’s races on the main racing page (tracks down the left, race numbers along the top) making it quick and easy to click on your race. On a race itself, it’s a fairly standard setup, but with a couple of items that some bookies still get wrong. Firstly, the headers showing bet type are clearly marked, so you know exactly what you’re getting, especially with Tote prices. The labels such “Best or SP”, “Mid Tote”, etc are important, so you’re not looking around to confirm exactly what the tote offer is on that race, like you do when some simple say “Tote”.
You get a “Best Bets”-style race / speed map comment, plus all fluctuations on each runner, which is handy to have on the same screen.
Moving to the mobile app, things are quite familiar and in line with a number of bookies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Things are easy to find, with a large focus on the next race. The ever present buttons along the top represent Next-to- jump, Racing, Sport and My Account. A race is easy to get to from there.
One small issue: when you’re looking at a race, there doesn’t seem to be an option to scroll across (with the flick of a finger) to the next race. You have to click on the menu, and then select the race number you want. Only a small extra step, but it’d be good to have that functionality there.
The option of a pin login is welcome too.
Why Bet With Them
When a new bookie lands, it of course takes a little time to get an idea of what they’re all about in terms od pricing, market percentages and events covered. It’s too early to know how that will pan out for Neds, but one thing we can probably surmise is that there’ll be a strong Ladbrokes flavor to things: both as a result of Shannon’s own background, and also the fact that a good number of those who’ve come across to work there are apparently ex-Ladbrokes.
If we use Ladbrokes as a guide, it could be a mixed bag. They’re known for a large number of different markets (tick), reasonable (if not best) prices and percentages and lots of promotional offers (tick), but also for being one of the quickest around in terms of limiting promos and banning successful punters. Very much a “really good, but only while it lasts!” proposition.
The other recruiting pool for staff at Neds has apparently been UBET, which makes things very interesting… UBET are fantastic in terms of promo offers and letting regular punters continue to use them (provided they’re not completely abused!), and also for pricing: they’re regularly best in the market on many Australian races. Should some of that approach find its way over to Neds, it’d make things very attractive!
In terms of fixed prices, early signs (from the first day or two) look good: prices are definitely competitive.
Legislation has unfortunately closed the click-to- call features, so you’ll have to make a phone call to bet live with Neds, as you do with all other bookies. It is fast and easy, and the easy-to- find Live – In Play item on the menu takes you straight to the matches you’re watching.
Client Profiling & Account Restrictions
As we’ve said, this is a real unknown with a new bookie. Will they take on all-comers, or be quick to ban anybody who shows any slight sign that they have a clue?
There’s statements on the Neds site about “superior customer experience” and “treating punters like the legends they are”, so hopefully that means something. It could of course just be empty marketing rhetoric!
And as we said above, the big worry is the strong connections with Ladbrokes, who have always proven to be almost the worst operator in the market in terms of banning and limiting customers. Hopefully they take a better approach with Neds.
It’s impossible to mark them accurately on this at this early stage, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on them!
Get involved, basically. The first target for any new bookie is to get accounts and volumes up, so the offers to attract you are there and you’re best advised to take advantage of them. They’re an easy-to- use, accessible bookie and early prices look reasonable, so it’s well worth a few minutes to set up an account and give them a shot.
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