bet365’s Denise Coates, iGaming’s Million-a-Week Queen Still Kickin’

Denise Coates remains a free woman in iGaming, unencumbered, as the joint-head and powerhouse of bet365, the biggest privately-owned betting business in the world, by pesky shareholders and activist investors who throw a hissy fit every time share values fall or results don’t quite meet expectations.

As such she remains a billionaire several times over, Britain’s richest woman, a person who can pay herself £1 million-a-day – or, to put it into even greater context: The equivalent of around 30-years wages for the average British worker.

How does 56-year-old Ms. Coates (pictured, right) do it? By oodles of charm, by running a warm, progressive enterprise that treats its workers like family. By not speaking to the press.

And, crucially, by paying her taxes — some £460.2 million last year (US$585.44m).

That’s why when bet365 posts its latest Full Year Results, as it did this week–for the 12-months ending March, 2023–there’s no-one lining-up to put the boot-in when the company announces a pre-tax loss of £60.2 million (US$76.58m), a massive paper dive from the £76.1 million profit (US$96.81m) of the previous year.

Denise–co-CEO with her brother John of the British Midlands Stoke-on-Trent-based iGaming firm–collected total pay of £270.7 million for FY23 (US$344.37m), an increase of 2.7 per cent on the previous year, including 50 percent of a £100 million dividend (US$127m).

Although revenue for the year increased by 19 per cent to £3.4 billion (US$4.32bn), bet365’s ongoing expansion into the costly, but booming, US sports betting market, and investment in IT infrastructure, and growing staff to 7,500 employees fuelled expenditure.

Surge

While business revenue returned to pre-Covid19 pandemic levels, generating betting and gaming revenues of £3.39 billion (US$4.31bn), operating expenses surged by 24 percent to £2.89 billion (US$3.68bn).

The company attributed much of this to launching its sportsbook platform in North America, where bet365 is now active in the US states of Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia, and Canada’s Ontario province.

“Entering into new markets requires high initial investment,” the company explained in a statement. “[But] the Directors remain confident that these markets will deliver a significant contribution to the group in future periods.”

The iGaming firm, which is the biggest employer in Stoke-on-Trent and long-time owner of Stoke City Football Club, currently lying 19th in the English second-tier Championship league, is active in a number of regulated markets around the world, among them: Argentina, Australia, Germany, Gibraltar, the Republic of Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands.

But in a telling giveaway it declined to publish sales and revenue by geography, claiming: “[This] would be severely prejudicial to the interests of the Group.”

And herein–amid tightening international regulatory frameworks and growing insistence worldwide on Compliance and Responsible Gambling–lies bet365’s potential “Achilles Heel”. For the company is also super-active in an unspecified number of so-called Grey Markets.

Exposure

India, that massive unregulated iGaming motherload of 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of the world’s population, is one market, for example, where bet365 has clashed with authorities.

But for the moment million-pounds-a-day Denise Coates remains the Gambling Queen of all she surveys; although one iGaming analyst cautions: “[There are early signs that] bet365’s USP is no longer clear.

“Growing US exposure means that costs are likely to continue to increase faster than revenue.”

Britain’s bet365 would not be the first empire dashed on the shores of American ambition.

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