Former PlayUp CEO Files Response To Lawsuit: ‘I Was Made A Scapegoat’

Posted on December 29, 2021
Written By on December 29, 2021

Former PlayUp US CEO Dr. Laila Mintas has filed her response to the PlayUp lawsuit that sought a restraining order against her.

The Australian-owned sports betting company filed the suit last month, alleging that Mintas had killed a $450 million takeover by crypto exchange FTX amid a dispute about her own contract with PlayUp.

The company argued she breached her fiduciary responsibilities and employment contract by doing so.

However, Mintas gave her own version of events in a 25-page document filed this week with the Nevada District Court.

Who killed the FTX deal?

Mintas alleged that PlayUp tried to make her a “scapegoat” after it was PlayUp’s global CEO Daniel Simic that “torpedoed” the FTX deal.

Per Mintas’ filing: “PlayUp withheld from this Court two key emails that demonstrate it was not Dr. Mintas that sabotaged the deal but rather PlayUp Ltd.’s global CEO, Daniel Simic who became greedy and caused the deal to fall through.”

Side deals?

Mintas said a deal had been agreed in principle for FTX to acquire PlayUp at $450 million.

However, Simic tried to add around $170 million of side deals to the asking price, Mintas alleged.

According to Mintas’ filing, that included $65 million in incentives for Australian staff, including Simic’s brother and another $105 million to acquire a crypto gambling company called PlayChip which was “controlled by the Australian board members of PlayUp.”

When presented with these new terms, FTX decided to pull out of the deal, Mintas said.

FTX explains its PlayUp decision

In an appendix filing, Mintas attached an email from FTX that listed four reasons they weren’t going ahead with a transaction.

That email noted a “conflict of interest” around PlayChip and the fact that key PlayUp US staff [Mintas] were not staying on after the acquisition.

Mintas’ contract with PlayUp had not been renewed at that point.

Per the FTX email: “A large part of the value of the business is coming from the US licensure and market access agreements. Any potential acquirer would want to make sure these agreements are full proof (sic). The current US team has been incredibly important to getting the market access agreements. To our surprise, key personnel from the US business are not a part of the future plans of the business.”

Mintas said those emails “spoke for themselves.”

She added that FTX’s advisor Chris Grove informed her FTX thinks she is the “jewel of the company.”

Taking matters into her own hands

Following the breakdown, Mintas said she began negotiating with FTX directly in order to “save the deal.”

She also sent emails to the PlayUp board asking to replace Simic as CEO of the global company.

That ultimately led to the operator filing for the injunction and a restraining order.

What’s next in PlayUp legal dispute?

Mintas denied the various allegations leveled by PlayUp’s lawsuit, including:

  • Breach of fiduciary duties
  • Breach of contract

She asked the court to deny the request for an injunction against her.

The case is scheduled for a hearing in Nevada on Jan. 3.

The outcome may be impactful for Simic. The filings suggest Mintas will try and report his alleged transgressions to US and Australian regulators once she is not bound by a restraining order.

What else is in the Mintas filing?

In one email to the PlayUp board, submitted to the court as evidence, Mintas urged them to do the deal quickly as sentiment around US sports betting soured.

Over the last 3 years, nobody has openly addressed that the businesses that the US operators built are unsustainable but now we can feel this starting, after PointsBets statements and numbers, also Wynn came out pretty strongly saying that this cannot continue…”

FTX has since de-prioritized its sports betting plans, a source said, in part because of the PlayUp drama.

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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