Over the course of the last two months, a legal dispute has arisen between PlayUp, an Australian-based sports betting brand operating in the US, and former CEO Dr Laila Mintas. PlayUp accused Mintas of working to undermine a $450m takeover attempt by cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
Following her initial victory in court on January 5, 2022, we review the situation. In mid-December, following PlayUp’s initial accusation, and the decision of the court to grant an emergency restraining order, Mintas had this to say to Gaming America: “I am a major shareholder in PlayUp as of today and invested seven figures of my own savings into the company. It makes no sense that I would have made any of those comments that are quoted in the filing; or tried to destroy a deal to sell PlayUp, as I would have benefitted from that as well as all other shareholders. All the claims mentioned in the filings are wrong and my lawyers are working on filing shortly my response to those claims to tell the true story based on written evidence. She concluded: "If someone tries to prevent you from speaking to the US regulators, that says everything.”
As the case developed, Mintas moved to present her counter to PlayUp’s accusations. Indeed, the evidence provided by Mintas in her response included the claim that PlayUp’s Global CEO, Daniel Simic, attempted to add $170m in side-deals on to PlayUp’s asking price, which can be found on page 43 of Mintas’ court filing.
Secondly, Mintas highlights an email, found on page 47 of her court filings, that was reportedly sent by FTX, and allegedly confirms that her actions had no impact on the acquisition.
The email, sent by Ramnik Arora of FTX on November 24, states: "After much consideration, we've decided against a full acquisition. There are a few concerns from our side." Reasons found in the email include a disconnect within the team and the board on valuations, as well as a mistrust and lack of communication between the US and the global businesses. Additionally, it cites conflicts of interest among the leadership regarding the PlayChip brand.
As of January 5, PlayUp’s request was denied by the US District Court for Nevada, which found that Mintas’ claim (that FTX’s takeover failed due to Simic adding $170m in side-deals to the FTX asking price, and subsequently using Mintas as “scapegoat”) was more likely.
The court’s judge, Gloria Navarro, stated: “The defendant provides substantial evidence in her response to the preliminary injunction that her comments did not cause the sale to fail; and plaintiffs did not otherwise provide evidence that the defendant even likely made a disparaging comment to FTX. It was just as likely or more likely that the actions of Daniel Simic are the ones that caused the negotiations to cease irreparably”
As things stand, Mintas is set to make her counterclaim and has filed for alleged damages of over $75,000. She states the imbroglio has caused “irreparable harm to her reputation, loss of income, devaluation of her shares, among other damages.”