An Australian daily fantasy sports site with a novel take on the concept is seeking a $10 million round of funding in order to explore domestic and international expansion.

Daniel Simic, founder of Fantasy Sports Global, which owns PlayUP

Daniel Simic, founder of Fantasy Sports Global, which owns PlayUP, says he’s looking for $10 million to take his ad-based revenue model for DFS global. (Image: Australian Financial Review)

Play Up is currently the only daily fantasy sports offering that relies purely on advertising for its revenues, making it completely free to play.

Players can win “prize money” which can be redeemed in the site’s online store, choosing from an array of products supplied by commercial partners like Rebel Sport, JB Hi-Fi, Dominos, Super Cheap Auto, Hoyts and BCF.

According to Daniel Simic, founder of Fantasy Sports Global, Play Up already has 100,000 sign-ups, surpassing initial expectations.

“We’re also seeing strong retention rates, so fans are coming back for more competition and prizes,” he said.”

Sidestepping Legal Minefield

Daily fantasy sports differs from the season-long variety in that it allows customers to deposit funds to bet on teams or sports players during a given day and earn points based on the performance of their picks.

It then allows winners to cash out at the end of the day. Its popularity in the US may be down to the fact that its the closest Americans get to the thrill of placing a real, legal online sports bet.

But this has also led to regulatory and legal challenges in the the country, where its detractors see it as gambling, thinly and dishonestly disguised as something else.

The PlayUP model would sidestep these difficult legal issues since players are not ponying up any of their hard-earned cash. In the absence of a stake, it cannot be said to be gambling by any definition of the word.

Big in India

The platform currently offers contests for the NRL, AFL and international cricket, and has enjoyed a lot of success in India, according to Simic. He says he wants to add NBA, A-League, EPL, NFL, T20 cricket, Kabaddi and eSports to the PlayUP site to broaden its international flavor.

“Millions of new daily fantasy sports players have come into the market in just the past few years alone. By making it more accessible and offering the opportunity to win real prizes, without any entry fees, we hope to take fantasy sports to the next level in Australia and around the world,” he said.

If the name of the site rings a bell, that’s because PlayUp was once a sports technology and betting site into which Malcom Turnbull controversially invested $1.3 million, back in 2012 when he was shadow communications minister.

Having blown through a $100 million in investments, PlayUP went into liquidation in February 2016. It was subsequently purchased from receivers by Fantasy Sports Global who transformed it into its current form.