UK bingo group Tombola to be bought by Flutter in £402m deal

UK bingo group Tombola to be bought by Flutter in £402m deal

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Online bingo operator Tombola is to be acquired by online gambling giant Flutter Entertainment in a deal worth £402m.

Flutter, owner and manager of brands including Paddy Power, Betfair and Poker Stars, will pay cash to take control of Tombola, acquiring it outright. Subject to approval from the relevant regulatory authorities, the deal is expected to be concluded early next year.

The acquisition gives Flutter the opportunity to significantly expand and diversify its operations. Founded by Phil Cronin in 2006 and employing around 700 people, Tombola has a monthly player base of around 400,000 on its popular websites Tombola Bingo (describing itself as ‘Britain’s biggest bingo site’) and Tombola Arcade. 

The company’s UK offices are based in Sunderland and Gibraltar. Although around 80% of its revenue comes from British users, the brand is also popular abroad, with 16% of users coming from Spain and Italy. It also has offices in Copenhagen, Madrid and Milan.

The deal comes as a boost to Flutter, which saw its share price drop significantly last month following a winning streak by sports bettors which knocked £60m off its earnings. Tombola, meanwhile, has continued to grow. In the 2020-21 financial year, it generated revenues of £164m and underlying earnings of £38.5m. It was also one of the 10 operators which managed to secure a licence for the newly regulated Dutch gambling market, which launched on 1st October.

Commenting on the acquisition, Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson drew attention to how the deal would diversify the company’s operations, stating: “Tombola is a business we have long admired for its product expertise, highly recreational customer base and focus on sustainable play. The brand aligns closely with Flutter’s safer gambling strategy, a key area of focus for us.

“I am excited to combine Flutter’s digital marketing expertise with Tombola’s operational capabilities within the UK and Ireland division.”

Jackson also paid tribute to Cronin, thanking him for “building the success story that the business is today” and expressing hope that the acquisition would help Flutter to grow into a sustainable company.

Cronin, who will leave Tombola following the deal’s completion, now stands to gain a fortune.

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