European lottery group Allwyn is reportedly among the operators planning to enter the race to buy a majority stake in the Irish national lottery, hoping to fuel its expansion plans by snapping up another gaming asset.
The Czech Republic-based giant held talks with UBS bankers working on the sale and the Irish lottery’s management team in March, people close to the matter told The Financial Times. The Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan (OTPP), which has a stake of nearly 80% in Premier Lotteries Ireland, kicked off a sale process in February.
OTPP was awarded a 20-year license to run the Irish franchise in 2014, as part of a consortium comprising An Post, which had operated the lottery since its inception in 1987, and An Post pension funds. The consortium paid EUR 405 million ($443.5 million) for the license, which runs through 2034.
Australian operator the Lottery Corporation and semi-publicly owned French operator Française des Jeux (FDJ) – as well as New York-listed lottery companies International Game Technology (IGT) and Scientific Games – are also considering bidding for OTPP’s majority stake, two people close to the sale process told the cited source.
As reported by The Financial Times, a person working on the sale explained: “Look at the lottery operators that have the money and that are looking for growth. That’s a list that is long enough to have a competitive process but it’s also short enough to be very tailored with only super motivated buyers.”
Last year, Allwyn won the tender process for the next UK National Lottery license, starting in February 2024, and then proceeded to take over incumbent operator Camelot, also owned by OTPP, in a GBP 120 million deal.
The company also bought Camelot Lottery Solutions, which owns the Illinois lottery and runs the technology division of Camelot, operating the online systems for lotteries across Europe and North America, in a separate GBP 200 million ($250 million) deal with OTPP.
The group posted revenue of nearly EUR 4 billion ($4.4 billion) last year, up 24% from the year before. Its operations also include lotteries in the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Austria.
UK National Lottery
Allwyn had been planning to go public through a EUR 9.3 billion ($10.2 billion) SPAC merger with blank-cheque company Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp but both parties called off the deal in September, citing volatile market conditions. The lottery operator, which was rebranded from Sazka in 2021, is owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komárek.
As part of the string of deals with OTPP, Allwyn also expressed interest last year in buying the majority stake in Ireland but OTPP instead opted to auction it off, pointing to its value with more than a decade left on the license.
Since its launch in 1987, Premier Lotteries Ireland has generated more than EUR 5.5 billion ($6 billion) for good causes, donating around 30 cents of every euro spent on worthy projects. Last year, the Irish lottery generated gross gaming revenues of EUR 400 million ($438 million) and EBITDA of between EUR 40 million and EUR 45 million.
Some bidders believe Allwyn has a competitive edge in the auction because its subsidiary Camelot Lottery Solutions runs the online draw for the Irish game, while an alternative operator may be put off by having to search for a new technology supplier. The sale process is expected to be concluded by summer.