Fortuna bets on expansion in Croatia, Romania, Spain

Photo: ČT24

Czech-based betting company Fortuna has taken a big step towards realizing its target of becoming the biggest sports betting and gaming operator in Central and South-Eastern Europe.

Photo: ČT24
It has boosted its market share in the betting and gaming businesses in Croatia, Romania, and Spain thanks to a deal to buy out 100 percent of Irish-based company Hattrick Sports Group Ltd.

The Irish outpost of Hattrick is the owner of the leading betting operator in Romania, Casa Pariurilor, the second largest operator in Croatia, PSK, and a joint venture partner in the Luckia operator in Spain. Fortuna intends to keep on its own brand and the Casa Pariurilor brand in parallel in Romania as well as the PSK and Hattrick brands in Croatia.

The bill for Hatrick’s assets is reportedly 2.3 billion crowns with a possible 1.35 billion payment on top if the new assets live up to expectations. Analysts say that Fortuna, without almost any debt on its accounts at the moment, will have little problem tapping banks for the loans that should fund the deal.

The acquisition still has to be cleared by regulatory authorities. Hattrick Sports Group is actually based in the United States with the Fortuna Group’s parent company sited in the Netherlands.

Fortuna’s results on its existing markets, its strongholds are in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia, were strong in the first nine months of 2016. It recorded an almost 23 percent rise in the total amount bet to 756 million euros compared with the same period a year earlier.

Photo: ČT24
Most of that increased turnover, 741.6 million euros, came from sports betting with lottery betting accounted for just 14.4 million euros of the takings, up just 2.6 percent on the result from 2015.

The disappointing news for betters was that winnings doled out climbed at a slower pace, rising by 14.4 percent to total 120.2 million euros.

Fortuna complained that its performance would have been better were it not for increases in betting tax in the Czech Republic and higher operating costs linked with its expansion ambitions.

Fortuna, created 20 years ago in the Czech Republic, has been in the forefront in the transformation of the betting business from a mainly over the counter activity at betting shops and outlets to one where online sales across all types of platforms now dominate. Online betting turnover has been growing at double digit rates compared with the single digit rise in traditional retail sales.