Australian sports betting and online gaming operator PlayUp, which is seeking to grow in the US, announced late last week that it entered into “a business combination agreement” with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in a move that will make it a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ exchange.
The transaction with Irish-based IG Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: IGAC) is set to close early next year, according to PlayUp’s release. Closing is contingent on the typical conditions, which include regulator approval in Australia, New Jersey, and Colorado – jurisdictions where PlayUp is licensed. An Australian court must sign off on the arrangement, and an outside expert must determine that the merger is in the best interest of PlayUp’s investors.
The deal values PlayUp at $350 million.
Daniel Simic, CEO of PlayUp, said in a statement that the deal will help PlayUp develop the technology it needs to offer a streamlined online gaming experience.
“We envision a world where our players can enhance their experience betting on the products they already love plus interact with the next generation of immersive betting products that embrace newer technologies such as AR and VR,” Simic said.
Besides its licenses in Colorado and New Jersey, PlayUp also has market access rights in Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio. If the merger clears, PlayUp said it intends to keep up an aggressive growth strategy in the US and abroad.
IGAC Sees Bright Future for PlayUp
According to the release, executives at IGAC spent two years looking at a slew of sports betting and gaming companies to determine which one would be most likely to have long-term success.
We are excited about this transaction because we believe PlayUp is the closest to achieving our shared vision for the future of online betting – a platform that offers consumers any type of digital betting they want, from one app and one digital wallet, anywhere in the world where it’s legal,” IGAC Chairman Bradley Tusk said in a statement.
Both Tusk and IGAC CEO Christian Goode will join PlayUp as a result of the deal. Tusk, an entrepreneur and well-connected political advisor, will serve as the chairman of the joint company’s board. Goode, a former Genting Americas executive, will become the president of PlayUp’s US division.
Tusk and Goode co-founded Ivory Gaming Group in 2015, and they, along with Edward Farrell, established IGAC five years later, which raised $300 million in its IPO.
Shares of IGAC were priced at $10.015 at the end of trading Friday. That’s a 52-week high for the stock.
PlayUp v. Mintas Update
While PlayUp looks to close its deal with IGAC, its lawsuit with its former US CEO continues in a Nevada federal court.
On Nov. 30, the company filed a lawsuit against Dr. Laila Mintas, whose contract with the company ended on the same day. PlayUp accused Mintas of making disparaging remarks to a potential suitor that ended up not buying the company. Mintas countersued, claiming Simic tried to extract more from FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange market that considered purchasing PlayUp for $450 million last year.
While FTX decided not to buy PlayUp, it opted to invest $35 million into the gaming business.
On Friday, Mintas filed her latest motion in the case. Her attorneys asked presiding US District Judge Gloria M. Navarro to compel PlayUp to respond to Mintas’ request to produce a video of PlayUp Chief Human Resources Officer Magdalena Rudzka videotaping Mintas as she spoke at a panel SBC North America in July.
The filing stated that event staff approached Mintas to see if she wanted protection from Rudzka and Simic, who sat next to Rudzka during Mintas’ presentation. It also includes a photograph taken from Mintas’ panel that shows a woman holding up her phone during the session.
PlayUp attorneys, according to Mintas’ motion, have reportedly denied having any video or audio recording of Mintas. Further, they added that even if Rudzka captured any footage, that would not be considered part of the company’s records.
“The video recording will support Dr. Mintas’ claim of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress by showing PlayUp’s actions to intimidate and harass,” the motion stated.
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