Australia’s PlayUp Ready To Rock The Boat In Colorado Debut

Written By Ian St. Clair on 07/23/2020 - Last Updated on January 16, 2021

Laila Mintas wants no part of the cookie cutter approach.

The newly appointed US CEO for the Australian sportsbook PlayUp wants to serve as a disrupter.

PlayUp announced its intentions to get into the US earlier this month. We now know Colorado is the first state targeted for its expansion. PlayUp is known for its Australian sports betting, fantasy sports and fixed-odds horse betting.

Now, through PlayUp’s 10-year contract with Bull Durham in Black Hawk, Mintas wants to bring that same knowledge and experience to the burgeoning market for sports betting in Colorado.

She said the goal is to launch in early September before the Denver Broncos and NFL start the 2020 season.

That first hinges on PlayUp getting approval from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (CLGCC) at its Aug. 27 meeting. That appears likely given its track record of license approvals.

As Mintas said to PlayColorado:

“I want PlayUp to be seen as innovative. A young and fresh company that comes in and wants to disrupt the market. We don’t want to come in and copy and paste what’s out there already. We want to disrupt the market.”

PlayUp’s plan for Colorado

Mintas’ plan is two-fold.

“It will be first about launching in the fall. That’s our Phase 1. And then we’ll introduce new products and ideas for our customers, but don’t expect that to all be in place by fall. We’re just getting started. But we will introduce that over time.

“So, Phase 1 is really getting into the market and Phase 2 will be coming up with more differentiating products. We want to apply a lot of the things that we do in Australia and bring them into the US.”

Untapped sports betting market

While Mintas wouldn’t get into the details on how she plans to disrupt Colorado and US sports betting, she said she wants PlayUp to hit what she feels is an untapped market.

“I see a big lack for many things in the US. For example, 48% of all sports fans are female. But if you look into sports betting only under 5% bet on US sports. But the whole female industry is an untapped market. Being a female myself, I don’t think there are many other CEOs that run a sports betting company in the US who are female.

“That’s something that I want to do as a personal initiative to see how we can attract female sports bettors. Women love sports as well, but they’re not really a big target group right now for sports betting. So, how can we change that? We have a lot of different ideas on that, but it’s too early to announce.”

Experience with US sports

The other big advantage that Mintas sees for PlayUp is its experience with US sports. So while the sportsbook is technically launching in a new market, state and country, like the European companies trying to get a piece of the Colorado pie, PlayUp is not coming in blind. She says:

“It’s very interesting that Australians bet a lot on US sports. So our advantage in the market is that we know US sports. Our risk and trading team, which we have in-house, they handle US sports already. Our customer service is in-house — they handle US sports already. So we are basically used to US sports.

“And that’s a big advantage over the European companies that come into the market. Europeans don’t understand US sports. I’m from Germany originally, and we grow up with soccer. And in the entire Europe, probably 80% of the betting volume comes from soccer. So for them to come into the US and adjust risk and trading, oddsmaking, all of the services to US sports, it’s more challenging. As for us, it’s what we’ve been basically doing in Australia already. So coming into the US, it’s a no-brainer.”

As of now, 10 Colorado sports betting apps are live. There are also four retail sportsbooks currently open.

Why did PlayUp choose Colorado?

As for why Mintas and PlayUp chose Colorado, she listed the greatest hits:

  • Industry-friendly regulations
  • Mobile sign-up capability
  • Reasonable tax rates
  • Passionate sports fans
  • Estimates are saying a $300 million market potential

“So for us, it totally made sense to choose Colorado as the first market. The US has huge potential. And it’s probably becoming the largest legal sports betting market in the world,” Mintas says.

“Compared with established markets, if you look into the UK, which is the largest established legal and regulated market in Europe, the potential market has a volume of $2.65 billion. Here in the US, in the scenario that online and retail will be legalized in all 50 states, which is, of course, an estimate and we all know it won’t be that perfect. But given that, the estimates are saying the market will be around $17 billion in a few years.

“So in comparison to established markets in Europe, it’s a huge pie, right? And we want to get a piece of that pie, obviously.”

PlayUp looks to serve as a disrupter

If you were curious, Mintas said there are no plans for a retail sportsbook. However, they still want to find ways to take advantage of the people who come to Bull Durham.

“How can we engage them to play with PlayUp? We will figure something out with them,” she says.

Instead, the focus for Mintas and PlayUp is how to serve as an agent of disruption for the Colorado and US sports betting markets, not merely to do the same-old, same-old. Mintas says they’ll be bringing that disrupter approach to other markets, too:

“We have more markets to come. We are planning on at least one more market in the fall.”

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Ian St. Clair

Ian is an award-winning sports journalist and a University of Northern Colorado graduate. He’s a Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. He broke into the gambling industry right as Colorado launched legal sports betting in 2020. Ian now manages the sites for some of the biggest gambling markets in North America and is an analyst for PlayColorado.

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