PlayUp Sues Former U.S. CEO: What Does It Mean For NJ Sports Betting and Online Casino Plans?

Written By Bill Gelman on December 22, 2021

PlayUp Sportsbook, one of the newer NJ sports betting apps, is making headlines. However, it’s not the result of the operator building a massive following among NJ bettors.

The news we are referencing centers around a lawsuit. PlayUp filed a lawsuit against former US CEO Dr. Laila Mintas. The allegations center around Mintas torpedoing a potential $450 million sale to crypto exchange FTX.

No matter how or when this case is resolved, the situation is unfolding as PlayUp, based out of Australia, is just getting started here. The NJ online sportsbook received full approval from NJ regulators in October.

And, at least for now, Colorado is the only other U.S. market where the app is available.

So instead of the spotlight being on bigger NJ plans ahead, the attention seems to be elsewhere.

Here is a closer look at the PlayUp news as it relates to Garden State gamblers.

What both sides are saying regarding this legal matter

PlayNJ received an email from PlayUp starting with the words “PlayUp has taken legal action against former CEO of PlayUp USA, Laila Mintas.”

Here is the brief statement that follows:

While any litigation is undesirable the steps were necessary to safeguard the interests of PlayUp.

PlayUp refutes the recent publications made by Laila Mintas with respect to the proceedings.

As the matter is presently before the Courts, PlayUp will not make further comment, and looks forward to a prompt resolution or determination of those issues. PlayUp remains focused on its continued rapid growth in the burgeoning U.S. market.

In terms of Mintas’ response to the allegations, Legal Sports Report, a sister site of PlayNJ, received a statement from the former CEO.

Mintas said:

“I am a major shareholder in PlayUp as of today and invested seven figures of my own savings into the company. It makes no sense that I would have made any of those comments that are quoted in the filing or tried to destroy a deal to sell PlayUp as I would have benefitted from that as well as all other shareholders.”

PlayUp names new U.S. chairman

With Mintas no longer leading U.S. operations, a replacement was needed.

Last week, the company released a statement announcing the appointment of Dennis Drazin as Chairman of PlayUp USA. If Drazin’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he played a significant role in the repeal of PASPA. It helped create the legislation which eventually led to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning prohibitions on sports betting.

Drazin is also a member of the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame and serves as the chairman and CEO of Monmouth Park.

The email referenced above explained Drazin’s role with the company.

Basically, he will work directly with PlayUp’s leadership team as the “business continues to maximize its market access holding and will continue to drive additional strategic and operational opportunities being presented to the company.”

As far as taking on the new role goes, here is what Drazin said regarding PlayUp:

“It has been incredibly rewarding to watch the significant growth of PlayUp in recent months. I’m extremely encouraged by the strong performance of the business, particularly within New Jersey where we have made substantial progress in a short period of time amongst what may be the most competitive market in the world,” said Drazin.

“I look forward to working directly with the team to scale our operations, grow our market presence and accelerate our ambitious plans to further our rapid growth across both the U.S. and Australia.”

Locating PlayUp on the NJ sports betting map

PlayUp arrived on the NJ sports betting scene earlier this year via a market access deal with Freehold Raceway. But as far as NJ sports betting revenue is concerned, the financial results of individual operators are not publicly shared.

Looking at November’s results, which were released earlier this month, Freehold reported $7.9 million in revenue. Out of that total, just $291,600 came via the Parx-branded retail sportsbook. The remaining $7.6 million and change is a combination of PlayUp and Barstool sportsbooks.

However, Barstool has stronger brand recognition with New Jersey sports bettors. So it’s PlayNJ’s understanding that the bulk of Freehold’s nearly 7% sports betting market share is a direct result of Barstool Sportsbook’s early success.

This doesn’t mean PlayUp isn’t contributing, but the company is still introducing its product to this part of the world.

Barstool, on the other hand, launched in several other states prior to entering New Jersey.

As far as building brand recognition goes, PlayUp has a partnership with the New Jersey Devils. The deal includes a 1,200-square-foot sports lounge on Prudential Center’s main concourse.

NJ online casino app coming soon?

Rolling out an NJ online sportsbook is the first part of much bigger plans. Earlier this year, the company announced a market access deal with Caesars, setting the stage for a PlayUp Casino launch.

In order to go live in the Garden State, online casino operators must partner with an Atlantic City casino.

And thanks to the Caesars deal, the company has also has secured Pennsylvania iGaming access.

There is no timeline of when the app will be live or what slots and table games it will include. However, no matter when the launch takes place, consider it part of PlayUp’s bigger U.S. plans.

Photo provided by PlayUp

To hear more analysis about the PlayUp legal situation, check out the LSR Podcast

Bill Gelman Avatar
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Bill Gelman

Bill is the Managing Editor for PlayNJ. He graduated from Ithaca College with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Starting as a lead writer for PlayNJ, Bill's focus is on the NJ sports betting and online casino industries. He frequently analyzes how and why NJ online revenue records are set on a monthly basis. Bill also makes regular trips to Atlantic City to meet with casino executives and cover gambling-related events. Bill appears on The Atlantic City Boardwalk Talk and Why Eagles Why podcasts, both of which can be seen weekly on YouTube.

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