PlayUp Launches Sports Betting App In Colorado Ahead Of March Madness

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PlayUp has launched in Colorado planting the seeds for the company’s U.S. sports betting expansion plans days before the start of March Madness.

PlayUp is entering Colorado through a market access agreement with the Bull Durham Casino in Black Hawk. The launch marks the first opening for PlayUp in a U.S. jurisdiction as the company mulls further expansion efforts in the nascent U.S. sports betting market.

The company will reward new customers with a 200% bonus on their first bet, regardless of whether they win or lose. Additionally, all new registered customers will receive one free bet worth $20 in sportsbook credits.

Wagering at PlayUp will be available via the company’s sportsbook app and web-based sports betting platform.

“We are trying to focus on the events each month which have the largest audiences and reward the casual bettor with more value,” PlayUp U.S. CEO Dr. Laila Mintas said in a statement.  “All of our promos are simple for the player to understand and they require no complicated ‘Opt-In’ process – if a player has a qualifying bet, they get paid – it’s that easy.”

Crowded marketplace

When PlayUp secured market access last July, Mintas noted that with a population of nearly 6 million residents, Colorado had tremendous potential for growth. In 2020 alone, the Colorado market surpassed $1 billion in handle, despite not launching until the start of May. The state opened 2021 on a strong note in January when operators generated gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $23.1 million on a handle that surpassed $325 million.

With the launch of PlayUp, there are about 20 online sports betting operators across the Centennial State. In addition, 17 retail sportsbooks were offering legal sports betting inside a casino environment as of March 10. But with customers still hesitant to enter a casino amid the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 98% of Colorado sports wagers in January were placed online.

“It’s exciting for us to be able to expose our customers to sports betting and give them a great option via the PlayUp app,” Bull Durham General Manager Doug James said in a statement. “The early handle numbers being reported by the Division of Gaming are a real testament to how much interest there is for sports betting in this state.”

Robust funding round

Months before the launch, PlayUp received a $25 million funding round to fuel its expansion throughout the U.S. PlayUp is also nearing a launch in New Jersey, another state in which it has secured market access.

The timing of PlayUp’s Colorado debut is auspicious. Last week, the Colorado Division of Gaming approved more than a dozen college basketball-related props for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. The event, more commonly known as March Madness, is typically the largest tournament on the nation’s sports betting calendar each year.

Selected props added to Division of Gaming’s Sports Event Catalog:

  • Will a No. 1 seed be tied or losing at halftime to a No. 16 seed? (YES/NO)
  • What will be the sum of all four seeds at the Final Four?
  • Will a No. 12 seed advance past a No. 5 seed? (YES/NO)
  • Wins by a select conference in a given round
  • Team to score the most points in a selected round (i.e. Sweet 16)

Since the beginning of last May, bettors have wagered more than $1.5 billion at legal sportsbooks throughout Colorado. Legal sports betting launched in Colorado on May 1, 2020 when four sportsbook operators — DraftKingsFanDuelBetMGM, and BetRivers — went live.

Matt is a veteran writer with a specific focus on the emerging sports gambling market. During Matt's two decade career in journalism, he has written for the New York Times, Forbes, The Guardian, Reuters and CBSSports.com among others. In his spare time, Matt is an avid reader, a weekend tennis player and a frequent embarrassment to the sport of running.

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