Flutter acquires Serbian MaxBet to expand European gaming business

Flutter is expanding its European gaming business with the acquisition of a majority stake in Serbia’s MaxBet worth $148.55 million.

Apr 8, 2024
2 min read
The front of a MaxBet betting and gaming arcade in Serbia. Flutter will acquire the company
The front of a MaxBet betting and gaming arcade in Serbia. Flutter will acquire the company for $148


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Flutter acquires Serbian MaxBet to expand European gaming business

Gaming providers continue to push for deeper expansion into Eastern Europe.Flutter recently completed its €141 million ($148.55 million) acquisition of Serbian gaming operator MaxBet, marking its entry into the Balkans.

The acquisition includes a 51% majority stake in MaxBet, with Flutter having an option to acquire the remaining 49% in 2029, Reuters reported. The owner of Paddy Power added that the Serbian gambling market is currently worth around €700 million ($737.52 million).

The upside potential is nearly unlimited, especially online. Online gambling accounts for about 35% of total transaction volume, but is likely to grow at an average annual rate of closer to 15% over the next few years.

MaxBet is in a good place

MaxBet has experienced strong growth of about 25% over the past five years and has 2,400 employees, according to the company. It has an extensive network of more than 400 retail stores in four markets and is visited by an average of 95,000 online players every month.

This resulted in the company reporting pro forma revenue of approximately €145 million ($152.77 million) for the 12 months to June 2023. A large portion of this (approximately 44%) comes from online channels.

MaxBet not only serves the Serbian market but also has limited access to some of the country’s neighboring countries. As the business expands, the company has also reportedly expanded into Bosnia, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

While Flutter, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, generates a large portion of its revenue from its U.S. operations, the company is actively diversifying its portfolio across various regulated global markets. Additionally, the company announced plans for a secondary listing in New York, underscoring its commitment to expanding its global presence.

The program is scheduled to go live on the New York Stock Exchange in the second or third quarter of this year. However, the company has experienced delays, with the listing pushed back to the end of the year or the first quarter of next year.

A world full of possibilities

Online casinos and bookmakers are increasingly attracted to Eastern Europe for several compelling reasons. They are actively seeking acquisition targets in the region, which offers virtually unlimited opportunities.

Entain has developed a plan specifically for expansion in the region and has already partnered with companies in Poland and Croatia. Once limited to Latin America, Betcris is now also using Poland as a springboard to expand into Europe. Bateson is also represented in Serbia.

One reason for the interest is that Eastern Europe represents an emerging and largely untapped online gambling market. The region's large population and rising disposable income make it an attractive destination for companies seeking growth.

Many Eastern European countries are adopting more favorable and clearer regulations on online gambling. These regulatory changes provide operators with a stable, secure environment and encourage them to invest in the region.

Additionally, the market offers a number of acquisition targets, including local operators with established customer bases, infrastructure and market knowledge. These acquisitions can accelerate market entry and enable early entrants to establish themselves as market leaders before competition in the region becomes intense.

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