Ladbrokes is set to make a reported £500 million bid for Sportingbet, in a move aimed at dramatically improving its online revenues.

The figure, reported by the Times newspaper, is approximately twice what the high street bookmaker planned to spend in an effort to take over 888, another online gaming site, before abandoning the attempt two months ago.

An acquisition of Sportingbet by Ladbrokes would expand the company’s online presence, an area in which it has been described as “weak” and “lacklustre” by several analysts. Rumours are also widespread that Ladbrokes’ head of online operations, Gary McIlraith, is set to leave the company after less than a year in the post.

Ladbrokes arch rival William Hill has in recent years made its own aggressive online efforts, including the launch of a joint venture with Playtech, a developer of casino software.

Ladbrokes however described “conversations” with Sportingbet as “highly preliminary”. It added that there can be “no certainty” that the discussions would lead to an offer. The company had not confirmed the Sportingbet bid value at the time of writing.

Chief executive Richard Glynn stated that while Ladbrokes had planned “organic” growth as its principal strategy, it had “also stated that we would explore appropriate opportunities that may help us accelerate that process”.

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