The mergers and acquisitions phase of the legal online sports betting market is officially in full swing with Wednesday’s news of another foreign gaming company seeking to unload a part of its business.
PlayUp, an Australian-based provider, told Legal Sports Report that the company is on track to sell its US operations – including its New Jersey sports betting branch – to a publicly listed company. According to LSR, the undisclosed buyer has the necessary experience to manage a US sports betting operation.
Daniel Simic, PlayUp Global CEO, told LSR the impending deal was expected to be complete by June 30. Simic says he now expects an offer sheet to be signed this month.
PlayUp a bit player in NJ online sports betting
PlayUp Sportsbook is only available in New Jersey and Colorado. When PlayUp first entered the NJ market, the company announced plans for an online casino. But a PlayUp online casino in NJ has yet to materialize.
PlayUp sportsbook operates under Freehold Raceway’s NJ sports wagering license. It was the first online operator, or skin, to launch under Freehold’s license in 2021. The other skins associated with Freehold are Barstool Sportsbook and BetParx Sportsbook.
New Jersey gambling regulators do not publish financial data for individual operators. Rather, the Division of Gaming Enforcement lumps skins under licensees and posts collective revenue and tax data.
As such, it’s hard to definitively report the financial performance of any individual online gambling operator in NJ. However, the Freehold group’s $10.8 million (through May) year-to-date NJ sports betting revenue is among the bottom tier of licensees.
Long, tough road for PlayUp US sportsbook
But no one disputes that PlayUp has struggled to attract market share since entering the US market. 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.
2023 shaping up to be a big year for online sportsbook deals
The sale of PlayUp pales compared to the recent sale of PointsBet Sportsbook’s US operations to Fanatics Betting & Gaming. PointsBet, another Australian-based operator, sold for $225 million after DraftKings drove up the price on Fanatics’ original bid of $150 million.
Similar to PlayUp, it’s difficult to gauge the performance of PointsBet in NJ. But, unlike PlayUp and Freehold, PointsBet’s NJ partner, Meadowlands Racetrack, is the highest-grossing licensee in the state. The Meadowland’s other skins include SuperBook and FanDuel Sportsbook, the nation’s largest digital operator in terms of handle and revenue.
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.