Bet365 CEO receives pay packet of £265m



Bet365 is a familiar brand, but until recently it’s unlikely that most people would have known the name Denise Coates. That all changed when she hit the headlines last week with the news that she has just become the wealthiest CEO in the UK, taking home £265 million in 2017. This figure represents a full third of the profits of the betting firm’s annual profits, the equivalent of almost £726,000 per day. The pay rise means that Coates, who has a net worth of around £4 billion according to Forbes, has broken a record she herself set the previous year, when she was paid £217 million.

Bet365 is a family affair, a privately held company owned by the Coates family including brother John and father Peter. Starting life in 2000, in a temporary building in their home town of Stoke on Trent, the Coates family, led by Denise, built a business that now has more than 35 million customers globally and over 4,000 employees. The latest pay rise for the CEO, who has more than 50 per cent shareholding in the company, is a reflection of the rise in revenue reported by the firm – up by 25 per cent in the same period.


Destined for greatness

There’s little doubt that Denise is the driving force behind the success of Bet365. The family owned a chain of betting shops, and in 2000 Denise persuaded her father to take a £15 million loan against the value of the business, in order to start an online gambling site. The move itself was a gamble, but one that seriously paid off for the Coates family.

Those who remember Denise Coates from school and university describe a highly intelligent and focused student. She graduated with a first-class degree in econometrics and joined the family firm as an accountant. A moderniser, she pushed for a more customer-focused approach and a move to the online market. She bought the domain for US$2,500 and launched the brand in 2001. Eleven years later, Coates was awarded a CBE for her services to the community and business.


Coming under fire

The news has sparked outrage in some quarters, with the pay package branded ‘obscene’ and ‘irresponsible and excessive’. Comparisons have been made to other business leaders – for example, Coates’ pay is 27 times that of Tim Cook, CEO of the world’s most valuable company, Apple. It is also more than twice the annual salary of all the players in Stoke City football team, which Bet365 owns, and 1,700 times that received by UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Critics have also been quick to point out that the pay package dwarfs what the industry as a whole contributes to the treatment of gambling addiction. The Denise Coates Foundation, a charitable organisation set up in 2012, funds educational and medical charities but hasn’t donated anything towards any gambling addiction charities.

Author: Marie Patterson