That announcement came from the Ohio Casino Control Commission last week after the agency had found that a business partner of PlayUp had accepted illegal wagers via its Slots+ program that featured casino-style games online.
The commission found that Slots+ had been presented to the public as a legal gambling option for Ohio residents when it is not. PlayUp complied with a “cease and desist” order from the commission in December, but a further review was undertaken.
The company informed the commission that it believed Slots+ was legal in Ohio, but the agency leaders were unmoved. PlayUp’s casino partner was going to be JACK Cleveland Casino.
The settlement with the commission led to PlayUp withdrawing its application for a sports betting license. PlayUp also agreed to a penalty of not being able to submit another application for the next four years.
In addition, PlayUp has agreed to pay a $90,000 fine plus another $30,000 in restitution to players who lost money playing the Slots+ product that they believe was legal.
PlayUp launched mobile sports betting in both New Jersey and Colorado in 2021, and it has preliminary approval to offer the same form of gambling in Iowa and Indiana via a licensing partnership with Caesars Entertainment.
The withdrawal of PlayUp’s license application could cause issues with regulators in other states where it hopes to gain approval. But given New Jersey’s status alongside Nevada as the leading U.S. regulator, PlayUp may not suffer as long as the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement doesn’t act against PlayUp for these violations.
PlayUp Has Bigger Plans
Before this snafu in Ohio, PlayUp seemed to be on a path toward making its mark in the online gambling world.
In March, the company announced the launch of “the world’s first integrated sportsbook, racebook, and daily fantasy sports platform” – available so far only in Australia.
The product enables customers to bet on horse racing, bet on sports, and enter DFS contests within the same app. PlayUp claims it will launch a U.S. version later this year.
That could occur in New Jersey because Monmouth Park thoroughbred racetrack owner Dennis Drazin sits on the PlayUp board.
Drazin, an attorney who was instrumental in the state’s successful effort at the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, is a believer in linking horse race wagering and sports betting.
A first step last year came when his racetrack became the first in the U.S. to offer “fixed odds” – a common sight in Europe and Australia.
U.S. racetracks offer parimutuel betting, with “the house” taking a portion of the betting pool, and gamblers effectively betting against each other. But a result of that system is ever-changing odds.
In fact, it’s quite possible for a horseplayer to put, for example, $50 on a horse listed 10-to-1 about 15 minutes before a race – only to see the odds drop to 3-to-1, and then to 2-to-1 just after the race starts, as a high volume of money gets wagered on that horse moments before the gates open.
Drazin says that format is unappealing to young gamblers who are accustomed to knowing that “the price you bet is the price you get” with sports betting.
The other factor that PlayUp and Drazin are counting on is that American sportsbooks currently have long droughts with little to no game action – for instance, in the summer there often are no sporting events of significance between 10 p.m. ET Sunday night and 7 p.m. ET Monday night.
But horse racing takes place all over the world, and at all times of night and day due to time zone differences. That could appeal to American gamblers who aren’t ready to call it a night – especially if they are on the West Coast.