bet365’s Denise Coates nets £265m

Denise Coates received a £50 million pay rise as the founder of bet365’s online gamble pays off. The former cashier turned billionaire is one of the world’s highest earners, banking £265 million in one year.

Denise Coates is a legendary name in the world of online gambling but you are unlikely to see many interviews with the founder of bet365. Notoriously private, Coates worked in her father’s betting shop chain Provincial Racing as an accountant and realised the potential of online gambling. She bought the domain bet365 in 2000 for $25,000 and went live with it in 2001. In the latest bet365 results, pre-tax profits jumped 28% to £660.6 million.

Denise Coates

bet365 CEO/Founder Denise Coates © Pexels.

As a bookmaker, bet365 took a huge gamble when they turned their backs on the traditional bookmaker’s model and switched their attention to online gambling only. While many bookmakers were increasing their high street presence and taking advantage of laxer laws on advertising in the windows of stores to increase footfall, bet365 went in the opposite direction and moved their whole business online.

Financially it has been a huge success for the company that employs 3,500 people in Stoke-on-Trent. The company that started in a portakabin in a carpark in the city now has an 8% share in the global market and has 35million customers worldwide. The amount bet365’s customers bet is increasing year-on-year with a 12% increase on last year’s trading. The amount staked by punters with bet365 was £52.6 billion.

Another benefit of moving to iGaming for bet365 was that the company avoided the very public backlash against fixed odds betting terminals. Public opinion about these machines has shifted to such an extent that the government were forced to bring forward a cap on the maximum stake of these machines from November next year to April. As these machines often make up more than 50% of profits of a high street bookmaker, some analysts expect this will hit retailers hard.

David Frost who is the chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, sums up this affection, he says:

The really good thing is that here we have a locally owned company with its roots very firmly in Stoke-on-Trent, employing 3,500 people and pointing in a new direction. David Frost, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership

Few in Stoke-on-Trent would begrudge Denise Coates this bumper pay-out despite the relative poverty of the local area. Named in a list of England’s poorest towns and cities, a former MP described the rundown areas of Stoke as being reminiscent of a Detroit ghetto, but the Coates enjoy cult status in the city. The company own Stoke City football club and despite being relegated from the Premier League, they enjoyed a decade of top-flight football.

Away from Stoke, opinions become divided much quicker with many questioning the ethics of such a pay-out for the Coates family. Addiction charity Addaction questioned why the pay-outs for directors are higher than the spend on help for sufferers of problem gambling. Chief executive Mike Dixon said:

“It cannot be right that the CEO of a betting company is paid 22 times more than the whole industry ‘donates’ to treatment. The gambling industry is paying nowhere near enough for the treatment of gambling addicts. It means that there are a lot of people are not getting any help at all. It seems indefensible for the industry to be giving so little, when it is making so much money.”

A spokesman for campaign group Fairer Gambling echoed the sentiments of David Frost. He claims the entire industry directly contributed just £8 million for research, education and treatment for problem gambling, a figure that is dwarfed by Denise Coates’s £265m.

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