Bet365 Boss Earns £323m Pay Packet

Bet365 boss Denise Coates is the UK’s best-paid boss, having received a £323 million pay packet for the last year. The jackpot breaks the record for the highest UK CEO pay, which she set the year previously when she earned £265 million. Some have criticized her payday, over low charitable donations.

A piggy bank, with coins.

Denise Coates’ payday of £323 million could make her this year’s highest paid female boss in the world. ©Skitterphoto/Pexels

Next in Line For World’s Highest-Paid Female Boss?

Coates’ salary has increased by 26% since the previous year. She received a base salary of £277 million, with 50% of a £92.5 million dividend awarded on top. Her pay works out at £1.3 million earned each working day last year. This is 9,500 times the average UK salary and over 60 times average pay package earned by FTSE 100 chief executives in 2018.

In 2017, Denise Coates became the highest paid woman in UK corporate history. Since then, her salary has grown year on year, breaking records that she herself set. Over the last three years Coates has earned £817 million in total. In comparison, residents of Stoke, where Bet365 is based and Coates herself is from, earned on average £66,500 in the same time frame. According to ONS figures, Coates’ payout this year could pay for 11,429 nurses, 10,152 teachers or a staggering 111,881 school crossing wardens.

Denise Coates founded online betting group Bet365 in more humble circumstances. In the year 2000, she set up the firm in a Portakabin in Stoke-on-Trent, with her brother John. The following year the Bet365 website went live, and the rest is history. Flash forward to the present day, and Coates’ net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine to be $12.2 billion.

Bet365 is owned by Denise Coates as well as members of her family. Her brother John is the online betting giant’s joint Chief Executive, and her father Peter is Bet365’s Chairman. Peter Coates is also a Stoke City director, while her husband Richard Smith is a Stoke City Director. Together, the family controls 93% of Bet365.

After achieving a first-class degree in econometrics at Sheffield University, Coates joined the family business, helping to run her father’s betting shops. With an eye on the online market, Coates took a £15 million loan to develop the sports betting website. Now, Bet365 has grown to become one of the world’s leading online gambling companies, making a pre-tax profit of £791 million this year.

Too Few Charitable Donations

Coates’ earnings have divided opinion for a number of reasons. Some have questioned whether Coates’ has contributed enough to gambling care charities, in comparison to her large earnings. The gambling sector has faced mounting criticism this year over a range of issues, such as children gambling and excessive gambling ads. It was expected that accounts detailing Coates’ earnings would be filed towards the end of November. However, these accounts were filed on December 17th instead. The delay was remains unexplained and Bet365 has refused to comment on the matter.

In 2018, when Coates’ salary was £265 million, Luke Hilyard of the High Pay Centre made the following comments.“Obviously, people who build successful companies need to be rewarded for their hard work, but this is an obscene amount of money for someone who is already a billionaire. It’s weird to think that someone so rich would want to get their hands on even more, rather than put it to a more useful purpose.”

The High Pay Centre, of which Luke Hilyard is Executive Director, is a think tank that monitors high incomes in the UK. Its primary aim is to draw attention to the pay gap between the UK’s highest and lowest earners, with the aim of lessening this gap. The High Pay Centre conducts research, which it communicates to policymakers and companies to affect change. Responding to this year’s significant pay rise, Hilyard was skeptical about the timing of Coates’ payday.

“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 incentivized and rewarded, but a payment a fraction of this size would still afford a lifestyle beyond the wildest dreams of most people.”

Adam Bradford is a campaigner for the Safer Online Gambling Group. He has stated that Coates’ should “personally put her hand in her own pocket” to donate 10% of her salary to NHS treatment centers for gambling addicts.

“The size of her salary is a complete slap in the face for addicts. Families have lost millions through gambling so this is really unpalatable news. Another way to look at it is every pound of profit for a gambling company is a pound lost by someone else”Adam Bradford, Founder, Safer Online Gambling Group

In 2012 Coates set up the Denise Coates Foundation, a charity that has donated funds to Oxfam, CAFOD and the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, amongst many others. This year she donated £85 million from Bet365 to her charity, saying “The size of the donation, and therefore the difference the foundation will be able to make to people’s lives over the coming years, are of great importance to the group”. The charity states that it helps children, the elderly and people with disabilities. However, to date, the Denise Coates Foundation has made no donations to gambling or addiction charities.

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