The company that backed away from purchasing PlayUp outright has instead decided to invest in the Australian-based gaming company that has a presence in the United States.
PlayUp announced Thursday that crypto-exchange FTX agreed to invest $35 million into the company during the fourth quarter of last year. Ramnik Arora, head of product for FTX, confirmed the investment to Casino.org.
The gaming operator is licensed to offer sports betting in Colorado and New Jersey. It has sports betting market access agreements in Indiana, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. It also has iGaming rights in Iowa, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The New Jersey app launched n October, and the company cited data from Eilers & Krecjik showing it obtained a .6 percent market share in its first month of business. That made it one of the top 10 sportsbooks in New Jersey for the month.
We are very happy with the progress of our U.S. market entry,” PlayUp Global CEO Daniel Simic said in a statement. “The recent investment by FTX will assist PlayUp in accelerating its U.S. market opportunities and grow our global sports betting and wagering presence.”
The company plans to announce more deals in the near future.
It says its vision is to incorporate sports betting, fixed-odds racing, iGaming, eSports, and daily fantasy sports into a single online gaming platform.
FTX Talks Central to Lawsuits
The time frame for the investment is around the same time that the two companies were engaged in talks for FTX to acquire PlayUp. It was after that negotiation broke down that the relationship between PlayUp’s global leadership and the CEO of its US operations started to deteriorate.
That led to PlayUp filing a federal lawsuit against Dr. Laila Mintas on the same day her employment contract ended. Company leaders claimed she broke her contractual agreement and disparaged the company in talking with FTX representatives.
Mintas has since countersued. She claimed that the company withheld information from the court showing it was not her actions that led to the $450 million deal dissolving. She added that Simic inserted conditions to the sale that added $170 million to the proposal.
A key document in Mintas’ argument was an email from Arora to Simic and CTO Michael Costa citing reasons against a “full acquisition” of the company. Among the reasons was unnamed key US personnel not being part of PlayUp’s future plans.
PlayUp’s motion for a restraining order against Mintas was turned down at the federal district level. But the company has since filed an appeal in US circuit court. The company also filed a lawsuit against her in Australia.
Hamilton Joins PlayUp US Team
After not renewing Mintas’ contract, PlayUp announced the appointment of board member Dennis Drazin as the company’s US chairman. Drazin is also the chairman and CEO of New Jersey racetrack Monmouth Park.
On Thursday, PlayUp announced that Art Hamilton would serve as the company’s US CFO.
The company said Hamilton has a background in mergers and acquisitions, business development, budgeting, strategic planning, growth management, project and program management, and analytics.
He worked with PlayUp shareholder Matt Davey at NYX Gaming Group. That publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange purchased OpenBet and eventually was sold to Scientific Games.
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