| Bumper package for Denise Coates comes as gambling firm reports fall in revenue
The boss of gambling website Bet365, Denise Coates, was paid nearly half a billion pounds in salary and dividends last year, as the
latest in a string of record-breaking awards took her total pay since 2016 to nearly £1.3bn.
After an unusual delay in filing its accounts at
Companies House, Bet365 revealed that its highest-paid director, understood to be Coates as chief executive, received £421m or £48,000 every
hour of every day throughout the 12-month period. In its accounts, the company said its pay arrangements were appropriate and fair.
also paid a dividend of £95m, signalling a separate windfall of around £48m for Coates, who owns more than half of the empire she built out of her
father Peters Stoke-on-Trent bookmaking business.
The deal is just the latest bumper package for Coates, who together with Peter and her
brother John ranked 16th in last years Sunday Times rich list with a fortune of £7bn.
It is also likely to cement the familys
position as the UKs largest taxpayers, contributing more than £500m a year when factoring in Bet365s corporation tax.
But critics of
excess pay and the gambling industry alike said it was hard to justify the scale of the rewards on offer to Coates.
Of course rich people pay
more tax, they have grossly disproportionate incomes, said Luke Hildyard, the director of the High Pay Centre.
Whats relevant is how
much money they have after tax and in her case its more than anyone can spend in multiple lifetimes, he said.
inefficient for single individuals to hoard wealth in this way when fairer systems of taxation could mean the wealth is instead used to support better public
services or raise living standards for low- and middle-income earners.
Coates paid herself £323m in 2019, including salary and dividends on
her stake of more than 50% in the firm, based in Stoke-on-Trent. The pay packet, then a record for a UK chief executive, took her income over three years to
The new enhanced deal takes her pay and dividends since 2016 to nearly £1.3bn.
The Scottish National party MP Ronnie Cowan,
a vocal advocate of tougher gambling regulation, acknowledged Coates hard work and success but added: When the industry is creating so much harm in
the community, when it is the most deprived areas that see the most damage and when the industry is in denial in regard to the damage it does, then salaries of
this magnitude will always draw criticism.
Bet365 reported an 8% fall in revenue to £2.81bn for the 52-week period ending 29 March 2020,
partly due to the cancellation of sporting events as the Covid pandemic took hold last year, on top of the lack of a major football tournament during the
Operating profit fell by 74% to £194.7m, down from £758.3m in 2019, owing to the reduction in revenue but also as a result of a
bumper pay rise for its four directors, only one of whom is not a Coates family member. The combined pay of the quartet leapt from £373m to £529m.
The company, which also owns Stoke City football club, will not publish results covering most of the pandemic period for at least another nine months,
but it is likely to have done extremely well given the increase in online gambling seen at rival companies.
Coates has become Britains best-paid
woman while building the Bet365 empire after recognising the power of internet gambling early on and pioneering hugely popular in-play bets on football, which
has overtaken horse racing in popularity among gamblers.
She took the company from a small operation housed in a portable building in a Stoke car park
to a globe-straddling multibillion-pound empire in the process.
Bet365 has repeatedly declined to give a breakdown of the geographical spread of its
business, despite past allegations of offering bets in China, where it is illegal to do so.
In its accounts, Bet365 said disclosing regional income
would be severely prejudicial to the group.
Ms Coates achieved a first-class degree in econometrics and later trained as an accountant
within the family firm, building further on the knowledge of the then small chain that she picked up while working part-time during high school.