Flutter Entertainment Buys Italian Operator Sisal for $2.2 Billion

Posted on: December 23, 2021, 06:03h. 

Last updated on: December 23, 2021, 11:05h.

Flutter Entertainment is finishing 2021 on a high note. The global gaming company has added Italy’s online gaming platform Sisal to its portfolio in a $2.2-billion deal.

Francesco Durante
Francesco Durante, CEO of Italian gaming and lottery operator Sisal. After a little more than a year on the job, he is leading a sale of the company to Flutter Entertainment. (Image: Italy24News)

The acquisition of the operator gives it substantial access to the Italian gaming market. Flutter already runs PokerStars and Betfair in the country. With Sisal, it will now control about 20% of the online gaming market.

Italy reportedly has the second-largest gaming market, second only to that of the UK. Flutter is acquiring the company from its former owner, CVC Capital Partners, in what CEO Peter Jackson describes as an attempt to secure a “gold medal position” in the Italian market.

For some time, we have wanted to pursue this market opportunity via an omni-channel strategy and this acquisition will ideally position us to do so,” said Flutter CEO Peter Jackson.

In addition to online gaming, Sisal runs Italy’s SuperEnalotto. The lottery can be purchased at 1,700 Sisal shops in the country, as well as at 40,000 points of sale. The operator’s online arm reportedly has a monthly traffic of around 300,000 customers. Its retail customer base is more than 9.5 million, according to the company.

Sisal also operates regulated lotteries in Turkey and Morocco.

Flutter Continues Growth Initiatives

The acquisition comes not long after Flutter agreed to purchase UK bingo operator Tombola. That deal is said to be worth $541.5 million. In its most recent fiscal year, Tombola reported pro forma revenue of around $51.8 million.

In contrast, CVC Capital recently reported that Sisal’s earnings should reach $283.12 million for the 2021 fiscal year.

Sisal’s earnings potential could gain strength. The company is in the running to take over the UK National Lottery from Camelot Group. If it wins the license when the decision is made in February, it will gain significant ground.

Italy’s New Budget Omits Gambling Reform

The Sisal acquisition comes at Italy’s lawmakers have been discussing new rules for the gambling industry. However, the release of the country’s budget for the new year fails to address any changes.

As a result, there will be no legislative progress for Italy’s gambling sector in 2022. The country’s operators are still waiting to find out what awaits concessions for betting shops, gaming machine operators, and online operations.

Without any amendments presented, 2022 could bring more friction between gaming operators and Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM). Current license holders want to hold onto their licenses, while the ADM wants to cut the gaming field in half.

Following months of regulatory uncertainty, the Rome Lazio Tribunali Amministrativi Regionali (TAR, or Italian administrative court) ruled last November in favor of license holders. The decision allowed 30 online gambling operators to extend their existing concessions until December 2022.

Despite the positive TAR ruling, relief was only temporary. The lack of amendments from the senate committee tasked with drafting the new Budget Law could mean changes are coming.