Denise Coates CBE (born 26 September 1967) is an English businesswoman, founder and joint chief executive of online gambling company Bet365. She has been listed in the Forbes magazine’s rich list, with an estimated personal fortune of $4.1 billion (approximately Kenya Shillings 423.243 billion).
Denise Coates is the eldest daughter of Peter Coates, chairman of Stoke City F.C. and director of Bet365, and is married to Richard Smith, a director at Stoke City Football Club. She attended the University of Sheffield and achieved a first class degree in econometrics.
While at school, Coates started work in the cashiers’ department within the family bookmaking firm, Provincial Racing, where she would mark up bets. After leaving university she trained as an accountant within the family business, before being given the opportunity to take over the small chain of shops. Having turned around the shops’ fortunes, Coates obtained a loan from Barclays to acquire a neighbouring chain. In 1995, she became managing director of the betting shop estate.
In 2017, Coates became the UK’s highest paid boss, after taking home a total salary of £217m for the 2016-17 financial year. The package consisted of £199,305,000 in wages, along with £18m in dividend payments. Coates’ wages for the year equated to more than double the total wage bill of Stoke City F.C., the Premier League football club owned by Bet365.
In January 2000, Coates purchased the domain name Bet365.com. While working in a temporary building on a car park near one of her shops, she spent a year creating a new online betting site. Bet365.com was launched in 2001. The business borrowed £15 million from RBS against the family’s betting shop estate. In 2005 these shops were sold to Coral for £40 million which also paid off the loan to RBS.
Since its inception, Bet365 has grown into one of the world’s largest online gambling companies, with $2 billion in revenues and facilitating $45 billion in bets in the year through March 2016. The company also owns a majority stake in the Stoke City Football Club. In 2015, Bet365 moved its headquarters to Gibraltar because of its favorable regulations. Coates still runs the company alongside her brother, and co-CEO John Coates. Denise Coates is the majority shareholder with 50.01% ownership of Bet365. Her personal fortune is estimated at $4.1 billion (£3.17 billion). This makes her the 474th richest person in the world (as of 28 June 2017).
Coates set-up the Bet365 Foundation in August 2012 and it has donated £100m to 20 UK charities to help support projects home and abroad.
Charities which have received funds include Oxfam, CAFOD, the Douglas Macmillan Hospice for cancer sufferers in Stoke, and relief programmes for victims caught in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. University scholarships and theatre donations have also been offered.
The Foundation also pledged £230,000 to St Joseph’s College, in Trent Vale, after Coates was impressed by a presentation on the school’s work to help support vulnerable youngsters in Sierra Leone’s second city Bo.
She lives east of Sandbach, in Betchton, Cheshire East.
Honours and awards
In 2012, Coates was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the community and business.
In 2013, Coates was named as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4