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PlayUp Sportsbook Goes Live In New Jersey

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Australia’s PlayUp Sportsbook has launched their mobile app in New Jersey.
  • New Jersey is the second US state for PlayUp–they launched in Colorado in March 2021.
  • PlayUp also offers historical racing based mobile slots in 25 US states.

Australia’s PlayUp Sportsbook has launched their mobile sports betting app in New Jersey. They’ve received their full operational licensing from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement giving them entree into the huge Garden State sports betting market. New Jersey is now the largest sports betting market in the United States in terms of revenue. New Jersey is the second US state for PlayUp following their launch in Colorado in March 2021. This means they’re now in the biggest market and the ‘pound for pound’ most competitive market.

PlayUp announced their plans for New Jersey late last year when they reached a market access agreement with the parent company of the Freehold Racetrack. From the press release announcing the deal here’s an explanation of the complex ownership structure of Freehold Racetrack:

To gain the license PlayUp signed a multi-year deal with FR Park Racing, LP (FRP) which is the sports wagering certificate holder and operator of the Freehold Racetrack. FRP is owned by Pennwood Racing, Inc. (Pennwood), and the ultimate 50/50 partners of Pennwood are Greenwood Racing Inc, Penn National Gaming, Inc. and Parx Casino.

Got all that? After receiving market access in New Jersey they quickly struck a partnership deal with the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League (NHL). At that time, they company announced that they would go live in New Jersey ‘in a few weeks’. It didn’t quite work out that way and the ‘few weeks’ turned into ‘most of the year’ for reasons unknown.

Dr Laila Mintas, PlayUp USA CEO, had these comments on the occasion of her company’s New Jersey launch:

“This is a huge milestone for our business. New Jersey doesn’t just represent the largest market in terms of revenue for any operator, but it also is an indicator showing the market, both consumers and investors, that we have cleared the most stringent regulatory standards in the world.”

“We have aggressive growth plans for our jurisdictional footprint in 2022 and going into other states with New Jersey approval in our back pocket is a positive sign for other regulators.”

PlayUp also has an iGaming product in the works which will also have to get regulatory approval. No timeline was given for this to happen. In additiojn, PlayUp is planning to add fixed odds horse racing to their product mix. The press release also included a quote from longtime thoroughbred owner and breeder Dennis Drazin. Drazin is a former president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and now sits on the PlayUp board. Drazin is very bullish on the future of fixed odds racing:

“The future of gaming will be to offer every type of wagering on an app 24/7. Horse racing offers a unique opportunity to offer content on racing around the world. PlayUp intends to enter the fixed odds wagering market in New Jersey and throughout the US as the market grows.”

That sounds great but with the exception of a handful of states the US sports betting ecosystem is still in the dark ages. They’ll have to drag most of the states in the US kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. The PlayUp press release also had these metrics on the New Jersey sports betting industry:

PlayUp can now target customers in New Jersey, a market that has seen a huge growth in handle since opening its doors to the sector in 2018.

As a 100% online sports betting operator, it is primed to excel in the state with such a huge percentage of the state’s handle coming from online bettors. From August’s $664.7m in bets, $612.9m were made online, representing 92.2% of the statewide handle.

Since New Jersey launched sports betting in June 2018 they’ve taken $17,981,013,829 worth of bets. Surprisingly, Nevada isn’t too far off the pace which is hard to believe given the fact that the state is more interested about keeping the legacy gaming companies from facing competition than growing their market. Then again, you have to keep in mind that most US states weren’t ‘shovel ready’ when PASPA was struck down. Nevada has a slightly lower hold percentage than New Jersey–6.18% to 7%. Only two other states have an aggregate hold percentage of less than 7%–Iowa at 6.8% and Colorado at 6.7%. It’s almost as if a competitive sports betting ecosystem benefits the player much more than crooked lottery run monopolies a la Montana (12.9% hold) and Delaware (15.1% hold). Delaware’s absurd hold percentage is the highest in the country. The only jurisdiction that was close is the grease fire known as Washington DC which had a 14.9% hold. Keep in mind that most of the Washington DC betting revenue was through their brutal ‘GambetDC’ platform powered by Intralot. There’s now a Caesars Sportsbook in town as well but you have to be at the venue to use their mobile app. Obviously, a monopoly situation is a ‘tell’ that a state isn’t serious about sports betting but were that not enough a secondary factor is their mobile betting setup. If they don’t have statewide mobile betting they’re essentially a joke.

I really like PlayUp and they should go live in the handful of other states that take sports betting seriously within the next year. They’ve already got market access agreements in place for Indiana and Iowa. Their problem will then become the same as their fellow Aussies PointsBet–they’ll run into states like Arizona where the only sportsbooks that get market access are a) juiced in politically or in a partnership with a politically powerful entity (eg: pro sports team, tribal gaming property or b) a financial benefactor of the governor or partnered with one. They’ll only be able to run this scam for so long but until then companies like PlayUp and PointsBet could be on the outside looking in at a number of desirable jurisdictions.

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