Bet365 boss Denise Coates takes home record £469 million pay packet

Simon Neville, PA City Editor
·3-min read

The boss of gambling firm Bet365 took home a pay packet worth £469 million in a single year – making her the highest paid person in the UK.

Denise Coates, 53, was paid a salary of £421 million in the last financial year to March 29 2020, along with £48 million in dividends, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

She founded the online gambling company in the early 2000s in Stoke-on-Trent after spotting the potential of internet betting to revolutionise the industry.

FTSE 100 photos
Denise Coates was the UK’s largest taxpayer for the second year in a row (Alex Severn/Bet365/PA)

The salary is a significant hike on the basic wage of almost £277 million that she took home in the year ending March 2019, when she was comfortably the highest-paid boss in the country.

Ms Coates, Bet365’s joint chief executive, was the country’s largest taxpayer for the second year running, according to the latest annual Sunday Times Tax List.

She and her family, who are worth £7.166 billion, had a tax liability of £573 million last year and has previously said she could offshore the business but prefers to ensure she pays taxes to fund public services.

Ms Coates has previously used the company’s annual report to highlight her charity work and did so again, with an £85 million donation to the Denise Coates Foundation – matching the amount paid in 2019.

The accounts also highlight that total pay to directors at the business hit £607.4 million, up from £428.4 million a year earlier, despite turnover falling due to the pandemic.

Although the accounts only cover the period up to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the company said it took a hit as fixtures started to be cancelled.

Bet365 also revealed in the 22 weeks to August 17, turnover from sporting events fell 26%, although it was partially offset by an 8% increase in gaming.

The Gambling Commission is in the process of introducing new rules for online casinos and slot machine games, following a boost in users during the pandemic.

Ms Coates said in the accounts about plans for new regulations: “The group stands ready to engage in constructive discussions to find balanced and evidenced based solutions to the various issues at hand and ultimately, to path a way to a new regulatory standard in the UK.”

She added that the business operated successfully throughout the Covid-19 lockdown although it had an impact on Stoke City FC, which is owned by the firm.

Gate receipts dried up due to restrictions and TV money fell following the club’s relegation from the Premier League.

Profits from gambling operations were £224.2 million, but Stoke City saw losses of £87.2 million, leaving total profits before tax for the year at £137.1 million – down from £791.4 million a year earlier.

Overall revenues for the business for the year to March 29 2020 fell to £2.81 billion from £3.06 billion.

The company also revealed the number of employees increased from 4,646 to 5,014, including expansion at its Malta offices due to Brexit.