On Friday, PlayUp Australia Pty Ltd announced that it had struck a deal to acquire corporate bookmaker Classicbet Pty Ltd, which holds an online and telephone betting license in the state of New South Wales. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but PlayUp claims Classicbet is a “mid-tier” wagering operator that handles annual wagers of around A$200m.
On Monday, PlayUp announced that it was acquiring the retail bookmaking operations of Australian operator TopBetta, which has chosen to shift its focus to growing its Global Tote operation. The deal will cost PlayUp A$6m in cash and 800m of PlayUp’s Ethereum-based PlayChip Utility Token cryptocurrency (more on this later).
The two deals follow last week’s announcement that PlayUp had acquired the DraftStars fantasy sports operation from Australian online betting operator CrownBet, which was itself recently acquired by PokerStars parent company The Stars Group.
As if that wasn’t enough M&A for PlayUp, it also announced that it’s being acquired by Australian-listed renewable energy company Mission NewEnergy Ltd via a reverse merger, after which the company hopes to raise US$40m by listing PlayUp on both the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and New York’s Nasdaq.
However, Mission announced that the ASX “has expressed concern … regarding the proposed transaction and the suitability of the company for listing on the ASX post-completion of the transaction.” So don’t carve this takeover in stone just yet.
Undaunted, PlayUp CEO Daniel Simic is touting the company’s emergence as “the world’s first fully-integrated, blockchain-enabled global fantasy sports, online sports betting and gaming ecosystem.” PlayUp hopes to launch an initial coin offering (ICO) of its PlayChip token in June or July.
The idea is that PlayChips will “allow sports fans to connect, compete and collect, irrespective of their location.” Simic said his company is “committed to growing the ClassicBet business beyond Australian shores and will integrate the ‘PlayChip’ as a new currency option within its platform.”
CalvinAyre.com has previously expressed its opinion on the dubious merits of ICOs (aka I See Zeroes) in no uncertain terms, so we’ll just reiterate our ‘caveat emptor’ position and let you get on with your day.
NEDSCOINS WANT YOU
PlayUp isn’t the only Aussie operator taking the ICO route. Online betting operator Neds was all set to commence Bitcoin wagering until the Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) pulled the plug in February, but Neds quickly recovered and recently announced plans to raise up to A$55m via an ICO of its Ethereum-based Nedscoin token.
Neds’ proprietary token will offer users not just the ability to wager via the site, but will also entitle holders to share dividends equal to 0.25% of the site’s betting turnover each quarter. Neds claims to have handled A$233m worth of wagers in its first three months of operation and somewhat optimistically projects this figure growing to A$8b annually by 2020.
However, the use of Nedscoin for wagering purposes will require the NTRC’s approval, and there’s no indication that the regulators have had a sudden change of heart on the cryptocurrency front.