THE race that stops a nation was also responsible for bringing down three of Australia’s betting giants in the final crucial hours before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
Punters were left frustrated when they were unable to place bets as the websites and apps of Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and Betfair crashed less than an hour before the great race.
And while the bookmakers were back up and running in time for English raider Cross Counter to win the $7.3 million Cup for Godolphin for the first time, the outage disrupted punters trying to place bets on the fifth and sixth races at Flemington.
Sportsbet down. Unexpected demand on Cup Day? pic.twitter.com/7Nd22eKKI0— Snert Underpant (@SnertUnderpant)
Hi We are currently having some technical issues. Our team is working on this urgently and we understand that the timing couldn’t be worse. We apologize for the inconvenience.— Ladbrokes.com.au (@ladbrokescomau)
Melbourne Cup an hour away…Betfair, Sportsbet, Ladbrokes all carked it. pic.twitter.com/FExMun9DVw— Rory Flanagan (@Rory_Flanagan)
Thoughts and prayers with everyone trying to get on ?— Punters.com.au (@Punters)
The major technical difficulties on both mobile and desktop sites led to widespread anger on social media as the online bookmakers didn’t even address the issue.
At 5.30pm on Tuesday, hours after the interruption, Sportsbet finally took to Twitter to apologise, posting: “Punters, sorry we let you down. We hope you still managed to have a good Cup Day.”
Even Olympic swimmer Geoff Huegill was caught up in the drama, posting: “Can’t wait to hear the BS testing report from #Sportsbet”, in reference to the betting giant’s recent advertising campaign.
“Went down faster than a Red Bull F1 engine,” Huegill said. “They were hedging their bets that no one would bet !!!”
Torrential rain in the hours leading up to the 3pm race — during which 50mm fell — also took a toll on betting turnover, with wagering expected to be down on last year, when the TAB held almost $90 million on the race across NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Even the TAB experienced delays in placing bets through its mobile app, with punters receiving a notification from the wagering behemoth blaming a third-party problem. But it was nowhere near as bad a problem as that facing people looking to place a bet with some of the corporate bookmakers.
It was a nightmare scenario for Ladbrokes, which was believed to have been down for the longest period of the hardest hit trio, after experiencing similar issues prior to last year’s race.
Customers trying to phone into the British bookmaker to get their Cup bets on also reported issues, with many receiving just a dial tone quickly followed by silence.
To place the significance of the outage in context, Sportsbet revealed that 26,000 bets were placed in a single minute leading into the 2017 Melbourne Cup.
On the same day last year, Sportsbet recorded a total of 360 million transactions, including withdrawals, deposits and wagers.