PlayUp to list on NASDAQ via SPAC in $350m deal

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
Online gaming operator PlayUp is to list on the NASDAQ stock exchange via special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) IG Acquisition Corp in a $350m (£308m/ €354m) deal.
PlayUp

PlayUp has announced it has entered into a business combination agreement with the special-purpose corporation, with the transaction expected to close by Q1 2023.

In a statement, the SPAC outlined its vision for PlayUp: The operator will offer a comprehensive suite gambling products including daily fantasy, sports betting, slots, table games, casino games, esports, lottery and sweepstakes – rather than focusing on a narrower array of verticals. It pointed to the company’s 56% year-on-year increase in revenue from 2021-22 as evidence of the business’ basic competence.

IGAC CEO Christian Goode elaborated on this strategy in a statement accompanying the announcement.

 “Currently, there is no platform that allows consumers to access every type of betting product through one single sign-on,” he said.

“Generally, industry competitors have chosen to focus on one product or another. IGAC and PlayUp have the same shared vision – to bring the global online betting industry the most comprehensive suite of traditional and innovative betting products from all over the globe together into one app.

“The transaction is expected to provide PlayUp with access to fresh capital to continue expanding its vision of a true single destination for the future of online betting.”

IGAC has said that it spent nearly two years looking for acquisition targets before settling on PlayUp – and that IGAC’s regulatory experience combined with the operator’s technological platform would create a “compelling” partnership.  

PlayUp CEO Daniel Simic also explained what the company intended to do with the increased access to capital: “PlayUp believes this transaction will enable us to continue investing in our proprietary technology and deliver on our aspirations to be the unrivalled entertainment and betting platform of the future.

“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,” he said.

IGAC chairman and former deputy-governor of Illinois Bradley Tusk added: “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.”

The news follows PlayUp’s July announcement that it had entered into a strategic review to consider “alternatives” to its strategy at the time – including the potential sale of the business.

The operator has had a complicated history with acquisition; the business’ planned sale to cryptocurrency exchange FTX collapsed in 2020. Leadership blamed then-US CEO, Laila Mintas, claiming she contacted FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and told him that PlayUp was “not clean” and had “systemic issues”, following a dispute with her employer.

The incident led to PlayUp filing a restraining order against Mintas in Nevada court. However, the order was later overturned – with the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the lower court’s judgement that PlayUp had not proven “the likelihood of success on the merits” when the case itself is judged.

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