Italian lottery and online casino operator Sisal’s parent company, CVC Partners has agreed to a £1.6bn (€1.9bn / $2.15bn) takeover deal by Flutter. The Dublin-based firm owns such brands as Paddy Power, Skybet, and Pokerstars.
Sisal is a major Italian operator with online casinos in Italy and Spain as well as interests in the lotteries of Italy, Morocco, and Turkey.
Italy is the world’s second-biggest regulated gambling market following the UK and the purchase would give Flutter a “gold medal position” in Italy according to Flutter’s chief executive, Peter Jackson.
Growth Strategy for Sisal
Rather than contracting during the world health emergency, Sisal took on a position of growth and expansion which saw about 20% in gains for their online vehicles and overall online revenues rise 90% year on year through the third quarter of 2021.
Sisal is also one of four contenders in the race for the UK National Lottery license which is scheduled to start in 2024 and run for a decade.
Other contenders include legacy operator Camelot of Canada as well as Allwyn which is a new UK special purpose vehicle headed by Sir Keith Mills for the venture. Allwyn is a rebrand and UK arm of Czech billionaire Karel Komárek’s Sazka Group, which currently runs lotteries in Czechia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Austria. Health Lottery operator Richard Desmond is also among the finalists via Northern & Shell. Desmond cashed in his interests in Reach media group to fund the entry.
We were unable to find life imitating art in order to check the bookies’ odds on who the top contender is. However, it would appear to be Sazka Group.
According to The Guardian, Komárek amassed the lion’s share of his £2.8bn war chest from oil and gas investments following the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
Sir Keith Mills Good Will
While Komárek has scant other business interests in Great Britain, the goodwill of Sir Mills’ successful efforts to bring the Olympics to London and in organizing the 2012 Games may also present a subconscious advantage for the contender.
It can’t hurt Allwyn’s odds that the originator of Air Miles and the Sainsbury Nectar card has loaded up his advisory board with Sainsbury CEO Justin King and revered venture capitalist Brent Hoberman. Vodafone is contributing the technology for the operation.
BT would provide technology for Sisal. Children’s charity and good-cause partner Barnardos add to the contender’s bonafides.
Earlier contenders that may have found the heat of the battle not worth the prize include Sir Richard Branson who has his focus on space and supporting Virgin Atlantic as well as Sugal & Damani, an Indian lottery operator that is also involved in real estate and government securities.
Source: Flutter enters contest to run national lottery via Italian takeover, The Guardian, December 23, 2021