bet365 owner: Denise Coates

#AD – bet365 owner, Denise Coates, is one of the most reclusive and hardworking figures in the world of British business. Ranked as the highest paid woman on the planet, Coates amassed her considerable fortune by building bet365 into the world’s largest and most popular online betting service. Coates rarely grants interviews, and keeps the details of her personal life secret.

Rooted in Stoke

Denise Coates was born in the city of Stoke-on-Trent in England. Her father, an entrepreneur, spent her childhood building up the family business portfolio, starting with a catering service that provided its services primarily to football grounds. He went on to sell his catering business, using the proceeds to purchase a chain of betting shops, which he re-branded as Provincial Racing.

The launch of Provincial Racing gave Denise Coates the opportunity to cut her teeth in the sports betting industry, working part time marking up bets while still at school. Following her graduation from high school, Stoakes moved to Yorkshire to study Econometrics at the University of Sheffield. Upon completion of her studies, Coates rejoined the family business as an accountant.

Coates didn’t think much of the business at the time. She later described her father’s business, which was struggling at the time, as a ‘small chain of pretty rubbish betting shops’. 

The birth of bet365

Once she began working full time in the family business, Coates moved through the ranks rapidly, becoming the managing director of Provincial Racing in 1995. She then set about expanding betting operations, acquiring a rival chain of betting shops.

During this period Coates identified the Internet as a potential avenue for growing the family business and outmanouvering more established rivals. Despite failing to acquire funding from any of the venture capitalists she approached, Coates decided to take a massive gamble and bet the future of the family business on the growth of online betting.

In 2000 Coates purchased the domain, and in 2001 the bet365 website was launched with the assistance of a £15 million loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland. 

During this period Coates also convinced her brother John, then working as an attorney, to join the family business. The two worked overtime to make their operation profitable and to identify ways in which they could offer more value than their competitors, who were also expanding their operations online. This included diversifying the sports they covered and expanding into bingo and online gambling.

By 2005 it had become clear that online betting was the future of the business, and Coates sold the family’s betting shops to pay off their loans and consolidate their operations under the bet365 brand.

One of the richest woman in Britain

By identifying the Internet as a growth channel for bet365 Denis Coates turbocharged the growth of her family’s business, and this decision has, quite literally, paid dividends.

Today Denise Coates consistently ranks amongst the top 10 richest women in Britain, rubbing shoulders with royalty, aristocracy, film stars and heiresses. She is also ranked as the highest salaried chief executive in the United kingdom, and made headlines when she was paid a salary of £422 million in 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic.

Life in the lap of luxury?

The Coates family has a reputation for avoiding splashing out on the types of expensive toys enjoyed by other mega-rich Brits. Furthermore Denise Coates is renowned for protecting her privacy and shunning the limelight.

As a result the best the paparazzi could dig up on Denise Coates in the lavish spending department was her plans to upgrade her residential estate in Cheshire. According to the press, Coates plans for her estate to include a massive lake, lawn tennis courts, stables and living quarters for the employees of the estate.

While her involvement in the football side of the business is minimal, Denis Coates is also a shareholder in Stoke City football club, which her father, Peter, has been involved with since 1986. Denise Coates’ husband, father and brother are all actively involved in the club and its fortunes. Stoke City FC is often potrayed as a passion project for the family that demonstrates their devotion to Stoke-On-Trent.

Philanthropy and personal life

Due to the fact that Denise Coates prefers earning a high salary as opposed to massive dividends, her earnings have come under scrutiny in the media with some questioning whether such massive earnings are justified for an established billionaire.

However, Coates is no miser. In 2012 she set up the bet365 Foundation as a registered charity, renaming it to the Denise Coates Foundation in 2016. Since then the Denis Coates Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of pounds to UK charities, as well as providing financial support to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the war in Ukraine.

Coates is also one of the biggest taxpayers in the United Kingdom, with bet365 contributing over £460 million pounds to the public purse in 2023.

In one of her rare interviews Denise Coates explained that she actively shuns the public eye and prefers to devote her time to running bet365 and her family. Coates is married to Richard Smith and lives on a rural estate in Sandbach, outside of Stoke. Her mother and father live next door. Online resources indicate that she is the mother of five children, however Coates has not disclosed whether she has any children.

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