Bet365 chief exec Denise Coates becomes UK’s highest-paid boss

Business News

The co-founder and chief executive officer of gambling firm Bet365 paid herself a record £199m last year, as the company posted a healthy £525m profit for the 2016/17 financial year.

Denise Coates is now the highest-paid boss in Britain, and is significantly wealthier than the previous titleholder, Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, who earned £48.1m last year.

On top of the £199m salary, Coates collected £18m in dividend payments.

The 50-year-old self-made billionaire began her career as a cashier in betting shops owned by her father, and became managing director of the family’s small chain when she was 22. Having spotted the growing popularity of gambling websites, she decided to launch her own by borrowing £15m against the family’s betting shop estate.

After purchasing the domain name, Ms Coates built an online betting website that would go on to become one of Britain’s most profitable companies. The firm is based in Stoke but is registered offshore in Gibraltar because of its favourable tax regulations.

The mother-of-five launched the business with her brother John Coates, and is the majority shareholder with a 50.01pc take in the firm. According to Forbes, Ms Coates has an estimated personal fortune of $4bn (£3.06bn).

Bet365 has become a familiar name to sports fans, thanks to its majority stake in Stoke City football club, of which Ms Coates’ father Peter is also chairman. Ray Winstone features in adverts for the firm reminding viewers to make bets while matches are still being played.

With more than two million people in the UK either problem gamblers or at risk of addiction, according to recent figures by the Gambling Commission, there is an increasing amount of pressure on the sports industry to curb the influence of betting in football.

In its latest trading statement, Ms Coates said the company “recognises its responsibility to minimise gambling-related harm and to keep crime out of gambling”. Last year, Bet365 customers wagered almost £47bn, up more than £10bn on the previous year.

She added that last year £50m had been donated to the Denise Coates foundation, whose principal activity is to provide funding to charities that will use the resources to enrich the lives of those that they exist to support.

The intensely private billionaire founder, who still lives in Stoke-on-Trent, was appointed a CBE for services to the community and business in 2012, and was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013 by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.