Denise Coates, CEO and founder of gambling company Bet365 is the United Kingdom’s highest-paid boss, taking home a total of £323 million in the fiscal year that ended March 2019. She was paid £277 million in salary, plus dividends as online gambling in general and their company in particular grew more popular last year.
Per the firm’s records, her salary grew from £220 million in the previous period. With this increase, she has broken the record of £265 million she herself set a year earlier. Coates’ annual pay equates to £1.3 million for every working day in the past year. This figure is 9,500 times the average salary in the UK, and 2,000 times higher than the amount given to the country’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
The increase in her salary became a highly talked-about news item primarily because it came in the face of mounting criticism thrown against the gambling industry, including the issue of children getting engaged in gambling activities. Ms. Coates owns the privately-held company jointly with other members of her family. The owners include her brother John, who is joint chief executive, as well as her father, Peter.
Having earned a first-class degree in econometrics from Sheffield University, Ms. Coates decided to join her father’s high-street betting firm right after graduation. She was the one who recognised the potential of online gambling back in 2000. She made the decision to invest in the domain name Bet365.com as part of a plan to drive their family business towards that direction.
In the last fiscal year, Bet365 recorded a profit of £791 million before tax, a marked increase from the £661 million they earned the year before. The firm paid total dividends of £92.5 million, and about half of this is believed to have been given to Ms. Coates, as she is the owner of about half of the company’s shares.
The High Pay Centre, a think tank responsible for monitoring income, called the timing of Bet365’s release of annual results “cynical” because it came right on the heels of the general election. According to High Pay Centre Executive Director Luke Hildyard, “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,” he added. “But a payment a fraction of this size would still afford a lifestyle beyond the wildest dreams of most people.” Mr. Hildyard went on to say there is “clearly scope” for people who accumulate such amounts of money to pay their workers more or at least pay more in taxes.
In October of this year, a Cardiff University study suggested that about ⅖ of 11- to 16-year-old kids have engaged in gambling activities in the past year. Study results stated that this was “particularly concerning, given that across the UK, most forms of commercial gambling are only legal for those aged 18 and over.”
In response to the growing concern regarding problem gambling in general, Bet365 has stated that they have “an unwavering commitment to deliver industry-leading approaches to player protection,” which includes the close monitoring of their customers’ gambling activities. The company has also stated that they will immediately “terminate the relationship if it feels the risk of harm is too high.”