The boss of gambling firm Bet365 has been accused of ‘living off the misery of others’ after her salary rose to £265million, making her one of the highest-paid executives in the world.
Britain’s best-paid boss Denise Coates earned £220million in 2018 and netted half of a further £90million dividend pot after her firm reported another year of bumper profits.
The payout beats the £220million she raked in last year, when she was already the UK’s highest paid director.
But critics called her earnings ‘obscene’ and ‘disgusting’, after it emerged the number of problem gamblers aged 11 to 16 had quadrupled in two years to 55,000.
Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘From gambling to alcohol to drug misuse we face an addiction crisis.
‘Services are slashed, mental health services neglected. Lives are ruins while the CEO of a betting company is paid 22 times more than the whole industry ‘donates’ to treatment. Disgusting.’
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: ‘New entry to list of outrageous executive awards. Denise Coates gets £265million annual pay from Bet365 for success in pushing online gaming.
‘Industry needs tough curbs on ads and levy to pay NHS for help on gambling addiction. Dozens have killed themselves.’
Ms Coates is pictured with her CBE medal in 2012. He has been praised for investing in Stoke
Some Twitter users and politicians including Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable slammed the Bet365 chief’s high salary, asking whether she could sleep at night
How Denise Coates awarded herself a NINE-figure pay packet
Denise Coates bought the domain name bet365 on eBay in 2001 for £20,000 and began operating a dot.com betting business from a portable cabin in Stoke.
She is now the majority shareholder in Bet365, a global company which has benefited from tighter regulations on the industry in other countries.
The bulk of her pay increase was due to a jump the salaries her company decided to pay out this year. It increased overall wages from £490m to £646m.
The business said it had ‘increased remuneration for individuals that have been key to the development of the overarching corporate strategy’.
She then took a large share of the £90m paid out in dividends, £80m of which went to four directors of the company, which include Ms Coates.
One Twitter user said: ‘Salary of Bet365 chief Denise Coates comes on day report says 55,000 under 17 year olds are problem gamblers. Does she sleep at night?’
And another user said: ‘Capitalism. Living royally off this misery of others.’
The High Pay Centre’s director Luke Hildyard told The Guardian: ‘Why does someone who is already a billionaire need to take such an obscene amount of money out of their company? It is difficult to find a reason beyond pure greed.’
But other commentators have praised Ms Coates for keeping most of the jobs created by the firm in Stoke-on-Trent, where the local economy has suffered due to the decline of the ceramics, mining and steel industries.
The 51-year-old owns around half of Bet365, which had £2.5billion in revenue and facilitated £50billion in bets in the year through March 2017.
Her staggering £3.9billion net worth puts her at number 388 in the Forbes rich list – drawing her level with Richard Branson, and making her more wealthy than Philip Green, Bernie Ecclestone and Mike Ashley.
Her fellow executives at the bookmaker include her husband, childhood sweetheart Richard Smith, who serves as group property director, as well her father Peter and her brother John.
She and her husband met at Sheffield University, where she earned a first class degree in econometrics in the 1980s.
Returning to Stoke to work for her father’s company as an accountant, she saw the potential in internet gambling and convinced her family to mortgage all their betting shops to build an online business.
She then bought the Bet365 domain name for around £20,000 and has never looked back.
She and her husband adopted four girls from the same family a few years ago and they also have a child of their own, but she had been described as ‘reclusive’ after keeping her home life well away from the limelight.
The couple live with their children in a large farmhouse near Stoke-on-Trent, bought for £1.3million in the spring of 2013.
John, Denise and Peter Coates of the betting firm Bet365
Ms Coates, pictured with her father Peter, who is also a director of her betting company
How Denise Coates’s huge pay dwarfs that of other tycoons
Ms Coates pay packet put her way above technology tycoon Sir James Dyson, who made around £200million last year.
Tesla boss Elon Musk made around £120million ($150million) in 2017, while Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai made £112million ($144million).
US digital giant Broadcom Inc paid its CEO Hock E. Tan £80million ($103million) last year, according to reports.
She also earns around 1,000 times the Prime Minister Theresa May’s estimated £150,000 a year salary.
Coates’ pay is around 9,500 times more than the average UK salary and more than double that paid to the entire Stoke City football team, which Bet365 owns.
She was awarded a CBE in 2012 for services to the community and business.
A regular on rich lists, Ms Coates founded Bet365 in a car park in 2000 and has since grown it into a betting titan.
Alongside her brother and father John and Peter, who are also directors at Bet365, the family boasts an estimated fortune of £5.8billion, ranking them 21st on the Sunday Times rich list.
Ms Coates, John, Peter and finance director Will Roseff shared a total of £321.6 million last year, the Bet365 figures show.
Total director and manager salaries ballooned from £321.9 million to £448.6 million.
Bet365 posted a 28% rise in pre-tax profit to £660.6 million in the year to March on turnover of £2.9 billion.
The firm also owns Stoke City and the accounts, filed at Companies House, show that the football club, relegated from the Premier League in May, suffered a £21 million loss last year.
Results earlier this month show privately-held Bet365 took an overall revenue of £2.72billion in the 12 months ending March 2018