New Jersey gambling regulators are shutting down the sports betting operations of PlayUp, claiming the Australian-based sportsbook operator is not complying with official requests and standards.
On July 19, the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement issued an emergency order immediately revoking PlayUp’s NJ sports betting transactional waivers to conduct any “new internet gaming or sports wagering-related business” with any licensed casino or racetrack.
The DGE order specifically requires PlayUp to continue processing “existing wagers and customer withdrawals.”
Not the NJ sports betting ‘first’ PlayUp was hoping for
Since New Jersey first began offering legalsports betting in 2018, PlayUp is the first operator to have its authorization revoked by state gaming officials for any reason.
According to the DGE, PlayUp failed to provide requested financial information related to the company’s NJ sports betting business. On June 29, the state asked PlayUp for year-to-date employee tax withholdings and certain bank statements and payroll registers. NJDGE says they have not yet received that information.
The division goes on to express concerns about outstanding invoices, “significant” worker reductions in NJ and questionable internal controls.
The emergency order states:
“PlayUp’s continued non-compliance with (the NJ Casino Control Act) and inability to comply with the requirements of (NJ Internet & Mobile Gaming Act) and (NJ Sports Wagering Law) demonstrate that it is currently unable to offer real money sports wagering to New Jersey customers at the standard required by Division statutes and regulations.”
PlayUp goes down in Colorado, too
PlayUp offered online sports betting in NJ under Freehold Racetrack’s wagering license. The company announced plans to launch an online casino in NJ under an agreement with Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City and Caesars Interactive Entertainment NJ but ultimately failed to bring the product to market.
According to the DGE document, PlayUp’s transactional waivers were set to expire later this year. The memo also says that nothing in the order prevents PlayUp from reapplying for a transactional waiver in the future.
In addition to NJ, PlayUp Sportsbook was also available in Colorado. However, the operator notified state regulators there that it planned on shutting things down, adding a request to place their licensed sportsbook application and website platform “into a maintenance mode.” While PlayUp no longer accepts bets in Colorado, players can still withdraw funds from their accounts.
PlayUp not playing with big dogs of NJ sports betting
NJ gambling regulators do not release data with individual operator performance for internet gaming or online sports betting. Instead, the DGE publishes financial data under a single casino or racetrack licensee.
PlayUp joined BetParx and Barstool Sportsbook as online operators, or skins, under Freehold’s license. Year-to-date, the group has reported $12.5 million in NJ sports betting revenue, putting it among the bottom tier of licensees.
Although unconfirmed, the bulk of that revenue is believed to be attributable to Barstool, with BetParx claiming a much larger share of the remaining proceeds than PlayUp.
Future of PlayUp is uncertain
Earlier this month, PlayUp’s global CEO told Legal Sports Report that the company was on track to sell its US operations to an undisclosed publicly listed company. Daniel Simic, the company’s chief executive, said at the time that he expected an offer sheet to be signed this month.
Since entering the US market, PlayUp has struggled to attract market share.
The brand’s introduction to most US customers was a very public legal matter involving the company’s former US CEO Dr. Laila Mintas. PlayUp sued Mintas, claiming she purposely sank a $450 million deal with crypto-currency company FTX. Mintas has since co-founded another digital gaming venture, PlayEngine. FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is set to go on trial in federal court in October for a litany of charges, including fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
In 2022, PlayUp was nearly sold to a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) which would have taken the company public. That deal fell through after some key filing deadlines were missed.