Bet365’s Denise Coates joins best-paid global executives with £421m package

Gambling boss sets new record for pay in the UK despite revenue decline

Bet365 boss Denise Coates: her pay is only slightly lower than that of Tesla founder Elon Musk. Photograph: Alex Severn/Bet365/PA

Bet365 boss Denise Coates: her pay is only slightly lower than that of Tesla founder Elon Musk. Photograph: Alex Severn/Bet365/PA

 

Denise Coates, head of the gambling group Bet365, has set a new record for the best-paid executive in the UK, with a £421 million (€493.5 million) package that makes her one of the highest-earning corporate figures in the world.

Bet365’s latest accounts, which cover the year to March 2020 and are due to be published in the coming days, show Coates’ base pay rose from £277 million in 2019.

The increase came despite the privately held company suffering an 8 per cent decline in revenues to £2.8 billion.

Her pay is seven times that of Tim Steiner, chief executive of Ocado, the highest paid boss in the FTSE 100.

It is only slightly lower than the pay of Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, who earned $595 million in 2019, according to Bloomberg, which placed him as the top-paid executive in the US. His package is inflated by stock awards.

Thanks to the success of the gambling business that Coates took over from her father 20 years ago and now owns and runs with her brother, Coates has regularly been the UK’s highest-paid chief executive over the past five years.

Last year she was the wealthiest woman in the UK per the Sunday Times rich list but gave away £85 million in 2020 to causes including local hospices in Bet365’s hometown of Stoke-on-Trent and health mentoring schemes in Malawi.

Bet365 also revealed it paid a dividend of £95 million, split between its four directors.

The reduction in revenues and the costs of increased remuneration caused operating profits to fall 74 per cent to £194.7 million, the company said.

Pandemic effect

Bet365, which focuses predominantly on online sports betting, has regularly outperformed rivals but said that the tail-end of its financial year had been hit by the “dramatic effect” of the pandemic, which caused almost all sports fixtures to be cancelled.

Revenues from its sports and gaming business would have been up 2 per cent year-on-year had it not been for the disruption, it noted, adding that in the 22 weeks to the end of August year-on-year turnover was down 21 per cent with a drop of 26 per cent in its sports betting business only being partially offset by an 8 per cent uptick in gaming.

The group did not lay off any employees, reduce pay or take furlough money from the government and paid £614 million in UK taxes.

Revenues from the UK business were about £700m. The group does not break down the split of its business but it also holds licences in 14 other countries and is trying to establish itself in the US, where sports betting has grown rapidly since the practice was legalised in 2018.

It launched in New Jersey in 2019 and is awaiting approval for sports betting legislation in New York. A decision is expected to be made in the next couple of days.

The group also owns the football club Stoke City, which was hit by relegation from the Premier League reducing its TV income and causing it to fall to an £87 million pre-tax loss on revenues of £54.2 million, down from £82 million in 2019.

Coates said she was “delighted” with the way Bet365 had responded to the “challenging circumstances” of the pandemic.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021