Bet365 Boss Denise Coates Criticized Over Record £265 Million Pay Packet

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Billionaire Bet365 founder Denise Coates, 53, was once again the highest-earning company director in the UK in last financial year, paying herself a staggering £265 million ($341 million) in the 12 months to 2018, including dividends.

Denise Coates

Denise Coates may be media shy but she’s not bashful about bumping up her wage packet. In the most recent financial year, she broke the UK wages record (again), paying herself a salary 13 times bigger than Sheldon Adelson’s. (Image: Bet365)

That’s up over 18 percent from the £217 million ($279 million) she collected the previous year, which itself was the biggest salary ever drawn buy a UK company director.

Coates was paid a base salary of just over £220 million ($283 million), collecting a further £45 million ($58 million) on her 51 percent stake in Bet365, according to accounts recently filed to the UK government by the private company.

To put this into perspective, Sheldon Adelson — the wealthiest man in the gaming industry and 21st richest man in the world — paid himself $26.1 million last year. Meanwhile, Tim Cook, CEO of the world’s most valuable company, Apple, received $12.8 million last year.

Billionaire Backlash

The news of Coates’ self-indulging largesse comes at a time when the popularity of the gambling industry in the UK has never been lower, and coincides with reports that problem gambling among the nation’s children has quadrupled over the past two years.

A study published this week by the UK Gambling Commission found there were 55,000 problem gamblers in Britain aged under 16.

In any circumstance it is hard to justify, but more so given the money comes from people struggling with compulsive gambling,” Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable told The Guardian. “This is an industry body needing tighter regulation. We have started with high-stakes gaming machines [FOBTs]. We now need to move onto online gambling and curbing the advertising around it.”

Mike Dixon, chief executive of addiction charity Addaction, said it was “astonishing” the boss of one gambling company could be paid more than 26 times the entire industry’s contribution to problem gambling treatment programs.

Coates contributes to charitable causes through her organization, The Denise Coates Foundation, to which Bet365 donated £75 million ($95 million) last year.

Rise to the Top

Having graduated with a degree in econometrics from the University of Sheffield, Coates began her career as a cashier in betting shops owned by her father in their native city, Stoke.

She helped expand the business into a chain of almost 50 shops, before deciding the future was online. In 2000, Coates bought the Bet365 domain name on eBay for $25,000 and never looked back.

The Coates family, including Denise’s father, brother, and husband, controls 93 percent of Bet365, which reported revenues of £2.9 billion ($3.7 billion) and operating profits of £660 million ($850 million), for the last fiscal year. The family bought Stoke City soccer team in 2016.

Coates, who rarely gives media interviews, is the 21st richest person in the UK.

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