Embattled online gambling operator PlayUp started off 2024 the same way it ended 2023 — asking New Jersey gaming regulators for relief.
The Division of Gaming Enforcement granted PlayUp’s request for another 30-day extension allowing Daniel Simic to continue serving as the New Jersey head of office, according to a Jan. 11 order.
Simic, the company’s global chief executive officer, is only assuming the Garden State role for the limited purposes of making required payments — including money owed to gamblers — and as necessary in relation to PlayUp’s restructuring of its New Jersey operations within the NJ online casino and NJ sports betting industries.
PlayUp attempting to rebound from rough 2023
The DGE revoked PlayUp’s transactional waiver to offer online casino gaming and sports betting in July 2023.
The Australia-based gambling operator failed to comply with multiple financial and operational requests from regulators, according to an emergency order issued by DGE Director David Rebuck.
Since New Jersey first began offering legal sports gambling in 2018, PlayUp NJ became the first operator to have its authorization revoked by state gaming officials for any reason.
Less than a week after losing its authorization in NJ, PlayUp went into “maintenance mode” in Colorado, the only other US jurisdiction where it operated.
Plans to launch online casino have yet to come to fruition
PlayUp offered online sports betting in NJ under Freehold Racetrack’s wagering license.
The company announced plans to launch an online casino in New Jersey under an agreement with Harrah’s Atlantic City and Caesars Interactive Entertainment but ultimately failed to bring the product to market.
Prior to the emergency action by NJ gaming officials, a sale of PlayUp to another US gaming operator was reportedly in the works. Simic told other media outlets that the sale was not affected by what happened in NJ, but there has been no new information since.
PlayUp filed its latest 30-day extension request with the DGE on Jan. 2, according to public documents. After approving Simic as head of office New Jersey in August, state regulators have granted an extension three other times, citing “extenuating circumstances and for good cause shown.”
PlayUp struggling to make inroads in New Jersey
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 was found guilty in federal court for a litany of crimes, 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.