Denise Coates, founder of the UK bookmaker bet365, has set up a £100m charitable foundation. This follows the recent success of the Stoke based operator which saw profits more than double last year.
The firm announced pre-tax profits of £319m compared to the previous year’s total of £148m. This figure also takes account for £5m in losses in relation to their majority stake in Stoke City FC. Bet365, for which Ray Winstone has become the ambassador and public face due to his unforgettable TV adverts, is the largest private sector employer in Stoke-on-Trent with almost 3000 staff. Of these 80% are based at the main headquarters in the city, whilst the operator has an additional office in Gibraltar. In just fourteen years the company has enjoyed a whirlwind rise under Coates’ watchful eye and is now Britain’s biggest online bookmaker.
The operator took bets of £26.5bn (of which it won £1.3bn) for the year up to March which equated to a 36% rise on the previous year. As the leading UK online bookmaker that they were one of the first to realise the potential of ‘in-play’ betting, a market which was expected to, and has, leaped in popularity this World Cup, was pivotal. Bet365 have profited from the ever increasing use of mobile betting; Coral predicted that 66% of bets this campaign would be placed via tablet or smartphone. This figure at the previous World Cup in 2010 was just 9%.
Coates herself featured in this year’s Forbes billionaires list with her fortune estimated at £930m whilst the Sunday Times rich list placed her family fortune at £1.2bn. She has personally received over £60m in both pay and dividends since the company was established. Bet365 is the most profitable gambling operator in the UK and is run by Denise and John Coates; her brother and also a major shareholder.
Despite being in its infancy the Bet365 foundation has already made donations to the aid agency Cafod, Oxfam, relief programmes for victims of the Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines and locally to the Douglas Macmillan hospice for cancer sufferers in Stoke. In addition it has helped with university scholarships and theatre donations.
The forthcoming changes in UK licensing laws, which will see a 15% duty for online bookmakers put in place, is a worrying situation for many operators, large and small, based off-shore. Bet365 find itself in a desirable position of strength on this issue; it will be unaffected as it’s based in Britain and so already pays the 15%.
Intriguingly however the firm has revealed very little about where it takes its bets from. In 2012 Coates stated that only a quarter of revenue was from UK punters, this is believed not to have changed, though the firm is reluctant to give any further information. The accounts state that to reveal the source of the vast majority of income “would be severely prejudicial to the interests of the group.”