The Italian Job: Flutter Scoops Up Sisal

In a move that puts them in pole position to exploit Italy’s under-performing iGaming market--and supercharges the imminent British national lottery bid--UK-Irish betting conglomerate Flutter Entertainment has bought Milan-based Sisal in a €1.9 billion debt-financed deal (£1.6bn/US$2.15bn).

Global heavy-hitters Flutter, owners of Paddy Power, Betfair, PokerStars and FanDuel, among many other top gaming brands, has long eyed opportunities in the Italian market, which with only 20 per cent online penetration is far behind the average 60 per cent pan-European iGaming curve.

Sisal’s 1,700-plus retail shops in Italy also gives an ambitious, expansionist Flutter strategic opportunity to circumvent tough advertising restrictions in the country, the second biggest regulated betting market in Europe after Great Britain.

Owned by private equity group CVC, Sisal filed for a stock market listing in October.

Flutter saw the opportunity and moved fast on their Italian job, beating out two other bidders.

Now they’re poised to make Sisal Italy’s biggest betting company.

Flutter’s existing online Italian presence, combined with Sisal’s, will give them a 20 per cent share of the country’s online gaming market.

“I’m excited to see how Flutter can complement these capabilities through our scale, differentiated products and operational capabilities,” said Flutter Chief Executive Peter Jackson.

Meantime, with the Sisal purchase—which is set to complete in Q2, 2022 –Flutter has also taken one giant leap forward in the race to become the new operator of the UK National Lottery, the fattest prize in British betting.

The winner will be announced in February.

Sisal, in partnership with BT, is one of the leading contenders in the bid for the new licence.

Other bidders include the Czech gambling company Sazka, the media mogul Richard Desmond and the lottery’s current operator, Camelot.

Jackson, perhaps disarmingly, has been recorded as saying: “The UK National Lottery bid is not something we are focused on.”

But Sisal remain adamant that it was “absolutely committed to [its] participation in the competition for the fourth National Lottery licence.”

UK Lotto or no lotto, Flutter’s Italian job has reinforced its position as one of the largest and most dynamic gambling groups in the world.

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