Denise Coates, who founded the betting agency, took home £265m in 2017, a figure that represents more than a third of the company’s annual profit.

By Daniel Herborn


Posted on November 22, 2018

The eye-popping figure set a new record for the highest-paid British CEO.

The previous record had also been held by Coates who lavished a £217 million (US $277 million) salary on herself in 2016, more than four times as much as the next best-paid executive.

Coates making US$928,000 a day as CEO of bet365

Per accounts filed on 21 November, her 2017 salary comprises £220 million in base pay and £45 million in dividends.

Coates’ annual salary is more than 9,500 times greater than the average UK salary and 1,700 times greater than that paid to Prime Minister Theresa May.

The salary breaks down to £726,000 (US $928,000) a day. It makes her one of the highest paid executives in the world, 27 times better paid than Apple CEO Tim Cook.

To Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, these figures are simply “irresponsible and excessive”.

“In any circumstance it is hard to justify, but more so given the money comes from people struggling with compulsive gambling,” Cable said.

“This is an industry body needing tighter regulation. We have started high-stake gaming machines. We now need to move into online gambling, and curbing the advertising around it.”

The disclosure of Coates’ salary coincided with a report by the UK’s Gambling Commission which found that children are increasingly being exposed to gambling. It reported there are now some 55,000 problem gamblers aged between 11-16 in the UK.

“An obscene amount of money”

Luke Hildyard, a Director of the High Pay Centre, was of a similar mind. “Why does someone who is already a billionaire need to take such an obscene amount of money out of their company?,” he asked.

“It is difficult to find a reason beyond pure greed. A payment of this size would be impossible to justify for someone whose business was in unquestionably life-enhancing products or services.

“It is doubly offensive when awarded to a betting company CEO at a time when problem gambling is spiralling out of control.”

Despite her incredible wealth, relatively little is known about the media-shy Coates. After taking over her father’s betting business, she transitioned the company into an online concern and purchased the Bet365 domain name from an eBay user.

“We mortgaged the betting shops and put it all into online,” she told The Guardian in one of her very few interviews back in 2012.

“We knew the industry required big startup costs but…we gambled everything on it. We were the ultimate gamblers if you like.”

Forbes’ real-time billionaire list puts her net worth at more than US$5 billion.

Header image credit: Carine06