bet365 CEO and joint founder Denise Coates is now the UK’s best paid executive after enjoying a recent £323 million payday. The figure includes a £277 million salary plus dividends.
Bet365 boasted a pre-tax profit of £791 million in the year, up on the £661 million profit collected the year before. The firm paid dividends of £92.5 million, half of which goes to Ms Coates who personally owns around half of bet365’s shares. In three years, Coates has made £817 million and has since been labelled the most successful woman in the United Kingdom with a fortune in the region of £9.3 billion.
Quick To Spot Online Potential
Ms Coates gained a first-class degree in econometrics from Sheffield University after which she trained as an accountant within the family business while working part-time with the High Street betting firm, Provincial Racing, run by her father Peter Coates, the firm’s current chairman. In 2005, she sold off the betting shop locations £27.5 million.
Coates was early to recognise the potential for gambling in the new internet era back in 2000 and, after registering the domain bet365 for £19,000, she mortgaged the family business to allow them to develop new software and take the business online. This, in turn, made them the first internet bookmaker, while their headquarters were stationed in a temporary building within a car park. Today, it is still run as a family business with her dad and brother John, who is joint chief executive.
With more than 4,600 staff, Bet365 is Stoke-on-Trent’s largest private sector employer and a whopping 70% of the firm’s income is driven by users betting on tablets and mobile phones. The firm, which also offers its customers an extensive range of sports betting, poker, casino and bingo, is the second largest sports betting operation in the world and the owner and sponsor of Stoke City Football Club.
Not everybody was convinced by the timing of the financial disclosure after the private company’s numbers, which were due to be filed a month ago but instead were filed on Wednesday. Critics have claimed that Coates and her firm intentionally waited until after the recent UK general election to take Coates’ pay details public.
Executive director Luke Hildyard of the think tank High Pay Centre said;
“This looks like cynical timing, sneaked out straight after a general election campaign where excess wealth, taxes on the rich and the vast gap between those at the top and everybody else have been key issues.
Business success should be incentivised and rewarded, but a payment a fraction of this size would still afford a lifestyle beyond the wildest dreams of most people.”
This theory has been given added gravitas with the news that bet365 sent a version of the financial report to trade publications with added orders not to give pass on details to UK newspapers.
This is not first time that the firm has faced criticism in its 19 year history. In 2017, a student named Megan McCann from Belfast sued bet365 for refusing to honour £1 million in winnings from £25,000 horses bet citing that the stake had been supplied by a third party. The case was later discontinued.
One year prior to this, the bookmaker found itself in hot water after refusing to transfer the balance of £54,000 despite months of requests to do so. The bettor had deposited £30,000 and immediately lost £23,000. The unlucky punter was then informed that her maximum bet had been increased after which she bet the remaining £7,000 and won £47,000 taking her balance to £54,000, so bet365 lowered her maximum bet to £1. Annoyed, she wanted her funds released and to close the account, but the bookmaker refused to do so.
In 2014, bet365 were pulled up by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) on their anti-money laundering measures following an investigation by West Yorkshire Police. The UKGC found that bet365’s policies and procedures was out of touch and that their banking system was far too over reliant on AML processes. From January next year, bet365 and other UK operators will need to act promptly to incoming changes surrounding money laundering regulations.
On 10 January 2020, updated EU Money Laundering Regulations will come into force and the UKGC will publish the 5th edition of its guidance for remote and non-remote casinos, the prevention of money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism
The main changes to the money laundering regulations will include the need for all gaming operators to ensure that all newly released products have been fully tested for money laundering risks, maintaining specific policies, procedures and controls, making sure that staff are fully trained in anti-money laundering and counter terrorist protocols plus carrying out customer due diligence measures in relation to high-risk third countries, complex or unusually large transactions, unusual betting patterns and customers who are beneficiaries of life insurance policies.