Sunderland bingo giant Tombola hits the jackpot in £400million-plus takeover by owner of Paddy Power and Betfair

Sunderland bingo giant Tombola has hit the jackpot after being snapped up for more than £400million.

Tombola House
Tombola House

Gambling firm Flutter Entertainment announced today, Thursday, November 18, that it has agreed to buy the group for £402million.

The owner of Paddy Power and Betfair said it had "long admired" the online bingo firm as it unveiled the all-cash deal.

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Tombola's founder Phil Cronin, who set up the firm 16 years ago, will leave the business after the acquisition, with him and his family expected to net a fortune.

Phil Cronin of Tombola, winner of the 2018 Portfolio Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, with Tombola picking up the Large Business of the Year and Overall Business of the Year Awards

Mr Cronin took the Lifetime Achievement title at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards in 2018, on an evening which also saw the firm taking the Large Business and Overall Business of the Year titles.

Based across sites in Sunderland and Gibraltar, Tombola has more than 700 employees and around 400,000 average monthly users.

It made underlying earnings of £38.5million in the year to April 30 on revenues of £164million.

The deal is set to complete in the first quarter of next year.

inside the new offices

Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson said: "Tombola is a business we have long admired for its product expertise, highly recreational customer base and focus on sustainable play.

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"The brand aligns closely with Flutter's safer gambling strategy, a key area of focus for us."

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Tombola was the first major UK-focused operator to introduce both mandatory staking and deposit limits.

More than 80% of its revenues come from the UK, with 16% from Italy and Spain.

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Mr Jackson added: "As the time comes for Phil to hand over the reins, I would like to thank him for building the success story that the business is today, and I look forward to welcoming the Tombola team to Flutter and growing a sustainable business for the future together."

Tombola has only recently moved into new offices after carrying out an award-winning transformation of the former Bonded Warehouse on Sunderland Fish Quay.

The firm employs around 600 people at its Tombola House campus in Sunderland and a Flutter spokesperson said the takeover was unlikely to impact job numbers on Wearside.

"We are committed to running Tombola as a distinct company within the UK and Ireland division,” she said. “We are not in the business of making any changes.”

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