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Billionaire Bet365 boss pockets further £270m 08/02/24
Rupert Neate and Mark Sweney
• Latest bumper payout for Denise Coates comes despite a £60m loss for 2022-23

The billionaire boss of Bet365 pocketed more than £270m in the last year completed trading year in another huge payday for the founder of the Stoke-on-Trent-based gambling company.

Denise Coates, who set up Bet365 in a portable building in the Staffordshire city in 2000, received the bumper payout despite the firm making a £60m loss.

She was paid a salary of £220.7m in the year to 26 March 2023, a £7m increase on her pay the year before, according to Bet365’s latest accounts filed at Companies House on Monday. As its controlling shareholder she is also entitled to at least 50% of the £100m dividend that was also paid for the year.

The £270.6m combined annual salary and dividend payment is up from the total £260m she collected in 2022.

It takes the total paid to Coates since 2016 to more than £1.7bn, according to calculations by the Guardian, and cements her position as one of the world’s best-paid people.

While her £270m pay for 2023 is huge – and works out at more than £1m for every working day of the year – it is less than the record-breaking £466m she collected in 2020. In 2021, she collected £300m.

She earned far more than the bosses of the biggest companies in the FTSE 100 index. Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of the drug company AstraZeneca, earned £15.3m in 2022, the latest year for which comparative statistics are available. Charles Woodburn, the boss of the arms manufacturer BAE Systems, was the second highest-paid, collecting £10.7m. In third place was Albert Manifold, the leader of the building supplies company CRH, who was paid £10.4m.

The Coates family is ranked as the 16th richest in the UK with an estimated £8.8bn fortune, according to the Sunday Times rich list.

Luke Hildyard, the director of the High Pay Centre, which campaigns for restraint in excessive executive pay, said: “People deserve to be rewarded for innovation and success but there’s a question of what’s sensible and proportionate. Nobody becomes a multibillionaire in isolation from wider society. In this case, the wealth depends on money coming out of gamblers’ pockets, the efforts of thousands of staff, plus wider factors like people having some disposable income, a secure and reliable internet network or all the infrastructure that goes into staging sports events.

“Ultimately, Britain’s prosperity depends on how the wealth our economy generates is shared. Pouring hundreds of millions of pounds more on top of billionaire fortunes every year isn’t a good way to maximise living standards, and it overvalues the contribution that the super-rich have made.”

Bet365 collected roughly flat revenues of £3.4bn, while the business recorded a pre-tax loss of £60m in the year to March, including a £12.4m loss from its ownership of Stoke City football club. The group also made a £100m donation to The Denise Coates Foundation, a registered charity.

The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Coates built Bet365 into one of the biggest online gambling companies from the bookmaking business owned by her father, Peter, in Stoke-on-Trent. After graduating with a first-class degree in econometrics – the application of statistical methods to economic data – from the University of Sheffield, Coates expanded the family’s Provincial Racing chain to nearly 50 betting shops.

As the millennium approached, she decided the future of betting was online and bought the domain on eBay for $25,000 (£19,000), a move that helped catapult her and her family up the UK wealth league.

Coates was awarded a CBE in 2012 for services to the community and business, and has become known as the “patron of the Potteries” for her decision to continue to base Bet365 in Stoke, where it is the largest private-sector employer.

She is building a £90m glass and steel mansion set in 21 hectares (52 acres) of Cheshire parkland. The house include an artificial lake, sunken tennis courts, stables, ornamental gardens, workers’ cottages and a boathouse. In December 2018, it emerged Coates spent £5.5m buying up hundreds of acres of farmland that surrounds her new futuristic home – designed by the Foster and Partners architecture practice – in order to maintain her privacy. She also planted 200 trees and erected a 2 metre security fence around the property.

The revelation of her latest mega-payday came just days after research showed the bosses of Britain’s biggest companies made more money in the first three days of 2023 than the average UK worker will earn in the entire year.