Flutter bets on Italy, acquires online gambling operator Sisal for €1.9bn

23 Dec 2021

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The Irish bookmaking company believes the deal will give it a stronger position in one of Europe’s largest gambling markets.

Flutter Entertainment has announced the acquisition of online game operator Sisal for €1.91bn to help it expand in the growing Italian betting market.

The Irish company, formed by the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair, said the acquisition aligns with its strategy to invest in leadership positions in regulated markets globally.

The purchase will be made in cash and includes a full repayment of Sisal’s current debt. Subject to regulatory approval, the deal is expected to be completed in 2022.

Headquartered in Milan, Sisal employs around 2,500 people and gets most of its revenue from Italy. The country is Europe’s second largest regulated gambling market, according to Italy’s customs and monopolies agency. It has seen online penetration grow from 10pc in 2019 to approximately 20pc in 2021, with Sisal’s online revenue growing by a compound annual rate of 34pc since 2016.

Flutter CEO Peter Jackson said the company has wanted to pursue this market opportunity for some time “via an omni-channel strategy” and this acquisition will allow it to do so.

“Sisal has grown its online presence significantly in recent years, aided by its proprietary platform and commitment to innovation. I’m excited to see how Flutter can complement these capabilities through our scale, differentiated products and operational capabilities.”

The deal is expected to increase Flutter’s customer base with around 300,000 “highly engaged” online players and more than 9.5m retail customers.

Sisal CEO Francesco Durante said the company has transformed over the last five years into a leading digital and international gaming company thanks to support from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which acquired Sisal in 2016.

“Through our commitment to digital innovation, international expansion and safer gambling, we have achieved a leadership position in Italy’s online gaming market and developed our global footprint by winning lottery tenders in Morocco and Turkey.

“We are delighted to join Flutter and are convinced that through its scale and operational capabilities, we will be able to further strengthen our leadership in the markets we operate in,” Durante added.

Sisal’s current position combined with Flutter’s existing online presence in Italy is expected to give a combined online market share in the country of 20pc.

Flutter has more than 14,000 employees around the world across 20 offices and 600 retail sites. It is the holding company for a range of brands including Paddy Power, Betfair, Sky Bet, Sportsbet, Fox Bet and PokerStars.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic