UK-registered, Curacao-licensed online gambling operator 2UP Gaming PLC is looking to break into New Jersey‘s online gambling market by either acquiring or building a casino in Atlantic City. On Thursday, 2UP released a statement saying it had received a letter of intent from an unspecified “Asian investment group” pledging to invest up to $330m in order to facilitate the acquisition of an existing Atlantic City gaming joint.
2UP, which began life in Melbourne, Australia a few years back, stated that it and its unnamed Asian sugar daddy planned to finalize their Definitive Agreement by Sept. 9, 2013. NorthJersey.com’s John Brennan quoted the company stating it was also considering the construction of a brand new facility in Atlantic City, but that language doesn’t appear in the press release on 2UP’s site, suggesting saner heads have since intervened.
2UP CEO Marino Sussich stated that his company had been “working diligently for the past 12 months assembling the finest technology and strategy and necessary to be a global leader in the iGaming marketplace.” Sussich touted emerging markets as key to 2UP’s growth potential, and that the “soon to be released launch of 2UP’s online gaming products into the United States” would factor large in this strategy.
Vincent Crandon, managing director of New York-based project finance outfit MidOil USA, was responsible for structuring the transaction between 2UP and its Asian partner. Crandon said MidOil, which will oversee 2UP’s New Jersey expansion, had “assembled an amazing team of local New Jersey professionals who are looking forward to helping revitalize Atlantic City by creating new jobs and opportunity.”
2UP first revealed their New Jersey aspirations in January, as part of the presser the company issued to announce its €25m acquisition of the DBG Poker Group. At the time, Crandon announced 2UP was looking at a “real world hotel/casino acquisition” in Atlantic City.
2UP needs some connection to an AC casino in order to participate in New Jersey’s online market, but the notion that 2UP might consider building a new casino from scratch seems spectacularly unlikely, given Atlantic City’s uninterrupted six-year revenue death spiral and the fact that Revel, the last casino built in AC, filed for bankruptcy within a year of opening its doors. Despite Gov. Chris Christie’s boosterism, it’s unlikely that New Jersey regulators would even consider further diluting AC’s casino market via the addition of yet another brick-and-mortar gaming option.
That leaves acquisition, and there are currently only two AC casinos that have yet to announce partnerships with online gambling companies: the Atlantic Club Casino-Hotel and Revel. 2UP’s $330m bankroll won’t be nearly enough to cover Revel’s significant debt burden, making the Atlantic Club the far more likely acquisition target.
2UP’s next annual general meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9 in London, which may provide an opportunity to shed further light on its stateside plans, as well as the identity of its mystery Asian backer. Meanwhile, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has established a July 29 deadline for would-be online gambling service providers to file license applications if they wish to make the mid-November ‘go-live’ target for the state’s online market, so 2UP really has no time to lose.