Born 26 September 1967, Denise Coates (CBE) is a British billionaire businesswoman, the founder and joint chief executive of online gambling company Bet365. She was born the eldest daughter of Peter Coates, chairman of Stoke City F.C. and a director of Bet365. Her brother, John Coates, is the co-CEO of the global betting company. The Coates family are third-generation bookmakers. They learned the business from parents and grandparents.
After earning a first-class degree in econometrics from the University of Sheffield, Coates expanded the family’s Provincial Racing chain to nearly 50 betting shops. Soon, she was recognised that the future was betting was online and she purchased the Bet365.com domain on eBay for $25,000 (£19,000), a move that propelled her and her family up to a fortune. Next, she recognized the potential for gamblers anywhere to be able to bet on sporting events was the first to harness mobile technology. To bring this to fruition, the business borrowed £15 million from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) against the family’s betting shops.
In 2005, these shops were sold to Coral for £40 million, which allowed Coates to pay off the loan to RBS. She went ahead to set up headquarters in a temporary building in a car park. As of 2016, Bet365 is one of the world’s largest online gambling companies, with $2 billion in revenues and facilitating $45 billion in yearly bets. A huge 70% of income now comes through betting on tablets and phones.
She is the UK’s top-earning CEO with a 323-million-pound payday because her knowledge of the industry is her greatest asset. While at school, Coates started work in the cashiers’ department of her family’s former betting chain, Provincial Racing where she amassed a wealth of knowledge on what makes gamblers tick. The company also owns a majority stake in Stoke City Football Club, of which her father is the chairman. Therefore, owning a football club gave them an insight into the way the Premier League worked. Although Stoke City is not the most successful team, it has played teams that are top of the league. Through carefully planned ads on the Stoke City Jerseys and TV ads, Coates garnered wide attention to the company.
Denise Coates is one of the wealthiest women in Britain and her pay equates to £1.3m for every working day. This is 9,500 times the average UK salary and more than 2,000 times the amount paid to the prime minister, Boris Johnson. Coates is also the majority shareholder with 50.01% of Bet365 and in October 2019, Forbes magazine estimated Coates’s net worth at $12.2 billion.
Coates set up the Bet365 Foundation in August 2012, and in February 2016 it was renamed to Denise Coates Foundation. It is a registered charity under English law and it donated £100 million to twenty UK charities as of 2014. In January 2012, Coates was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the community and business. In 2012, she received an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University. In 2013, Coates was named as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. In 2019, Coates was inducted to the Sports Betting Hall of Fame run by Sports Betting Community (SBC) for her leadership in the gambling industry.