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Bet365 Chief Executive Becomes Highest Earning UK Boss

  • The co-founder and chief executive of Bet365 earned £217 million last year and became the highest paid boss in the UK.

Denise Coates, the co-founder and chief executive of gambling giant Bet365, became the highest paid boss in the United Kingdom thanks to paying herself a record £199 million last year according to the company’s latest financial results.

Coates’ monster salary also came with £18 million in dividends, taking her pre-tax earnings to £217 million, dwarfing the previous highest UK boss’ salary, held by Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, by almost £169 million.

Company Background

Bet365 is a privately owned gambling firm that posted a healthy £525 million profit for the 2016/17 financial year. Coates is now the chief executive of the company and the co-founder of the online business. Coates became the managing director of her family’s small betting shop estate at the age of 22 and is now estimated to have amassed a personal fortune of £3.06 billion.

The company is barely recognizable from its humble beginnings. Bet365 started life in a portakabin in a Stoke-on-Trent carpark in 2000. Coates purchased the Bet365 domain name for $25,000 and has since been instrumental in transforming the website into one of the UK’s most-profitable companies.

The mother-of-five lives a private life, preferring to shun the limelight and concentrate on her family and business. While Coates herself owns a majority 50.01 percent stake in Bet365, she runs the company with her brother, John Coates, who owns about a quarter of the company's shares. In total, the Coates family owns 93 percent of Bet365.

Giving Enough?

Denise Coates was awarded a CBE for services to the community and business in 2012 and company accounts reveal Bet365 made a £50 million donation to the Denise Coates Foundation, a charity that mostly funds education and medical charities. The foundation's accounts, however, reveal the charity has not made any donations to charities that help problem gamblers, something that has angered some charities' head figures.

Speaking to The Guardian, the chief executive of the charity Addaction, 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 who 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 spokesperson for the Fairer Gambling campaign group echoed Dixon's opinion: “As losses from Britain’s gamblers continue to spiral out of control, so has executive pay. The entire gambling industry donated just £8m to research, education and treatment last year. If these companies can afford to pay their executives millions of pounds a year, there is no excuse for such chronically underfunded treatment services.”

Although not replying directly to the negative comments surrounding her astronomical earnings, Coates said in a statement to shareholders: “[Bet365] recognises its responsibility to minimise gambling-related harm and to keep crime out of gambling.

“The group is committed to developing an evidence-based approach to responsible gambling. To this end, the group continues to work with research partners on a number of projects to improve its methods of identifying harmful play and deliver more effective harm-minimisation interventions.

“The group is assured that its efforts over the past year will continue to evolve over the coming months, and will make further progress in the prevention and minimisation of gambling-related harm.”

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