Aussie Sportsbook PlayUp Faces Heat over Self-Exclusion Issue

  • Guardian Australia claims PlayUp violated principle behind license's self-exclusion requirements
  • PlayUp claims acquisitions and multiple licenses caused possible and temporary issue
  • Sportsbook's shaky history used as foundation for news giant's inferred consumer concern
Harbour Bridge and Sydney skyline during sunset
Australian online sportsbook PlayUp has been blasted over alleged self-exclusion failings. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Under the spotlight

Licensed Australian sportsbook PlayUp has found itself under a harsh public spotlight after a prominent feature in Guardian Australia showcased the firm’s alleged sending of gambling offers to self-excluded patrons in Australia’s Northern Territory, where PlayUp and most other Aussie-facing online sportsbooks are licensed.

The dustup, according to PlayUp CEO Daniel Simic, involved only a single self-excluded bettor on one of PlayUp’s sites, who then attempted to bet on a different PlayUp-owned platform.

“There’s one case,” Simic told the Guardian, “and it’s all been resolved and settled. It’s all signed under a confidentiality agreement so I can’t talk too much about it.”

involved only a single self-excluded bettor on one of PlayUp’s sites

Nonetheless, the Australian news giant, known for its anti-gambling reporting, cited the case as a potential problem under the operator codes of conduct not only in the Northern Territory, but across all of Australia, which is considering similar enhanced rules within its updates to federal gambling legislation.

Guardian Australia also cited several other recent episodes involving PlayUp and its corporate parent, PlayUp Australia Pty Ltd. The picture painted depicts PlayUp as a less-than-robust operation with potential ongoing issues amid Australia’s increasingly regulated market.

PlayUp cites cross-platform difficulties

The Guardian obtained multiple internal PlayUp e-mails touching on several delicate issues. Those included an August 2019 email in which PlayUp COO Andrew Parramore queried other execs, including Simic.

“How do we handle clients that are self-excluded on one platform under TopBetta licence whilst actively betting on our other platform under the PlayUp Interactive licence,” Parramore wrote.

Simic did not confirm to the news outlet whether this was indeed the self-exclusion instance cited. However, he raised two possible defenses.

First, he claimed that other sites recently acquired by PlayUp operated under different licenses, and that the individual sites were forbidden to swap such customer-specific information with each other.

Second, he claimed that there was little the company do if a customer’s identifying information was inaccurate or slightly mismatched.

The PlayUp boss claimed that his company hadn’t done anything “techincally” wrong, and that his firm’s operating licenses weren’t at risk.

Guardian exposes PlayUp’s bumpy past

The Australian outlet sought to buttress its report by highlighting other shaky episodes in PlayUp’s recent past. Simic acquired the book’s assets in 2017 after it had gone bankrupt under previous ownership.

Since then, PlayUp has grown through acquisition, picking up Aussie brands including ClassicBet, Best Bet, Madbookie, and TopBetta.

The Guardian‘s backstory, though, depicts a less-than-well-funded operation willing to walk away from existing obligations to acquired business relationships. The outlet obtained another Parramore email in which the COO advised against bringing over numerous prior Best Bet clients who were owed a cumulative $153,000.

PlayUp walked away from at least AUD $2.4 million owed to a ClassicBet affiliate when acquiring that site

Though not specified, the collective debt appears to be connected to old Best Bet affiliate partnerships. The Guardian feature also cited another and much larger failed affiliate deal in which PlayUp walked away from at least AUD $2.4 million owed to a ClassicBet affiliate when acquiring that site.

The affiliate, KRM (Vic), won a court judgment last month but Simic disavowed any responsibility, claiming he’d already resold the ClassicBet site.

The Guardian also missed in its entirety a public filing by the former corporate owners Madbookie and TopBetta. PlayUp acquired those brands in June 2018. However, in early January 2019, the selling party, The BetMakers Holdings Ltd, revealed that it had not yet received the final $2 million owed to it by Simic and PlayUp. PlayUp fulfilled that obligation four weeks later, completing a $6 million deal.