To see where Denise Coates is today sends a message to anyone who has a dream and the belief to make it happen. A little over 20 years ago, Coates went to her father Peter Coates with a plan.
At the time, the family owned a chain of area betting shops around their hometown of Stoke-On-Trent, England. They were doing okay, but weren’t exactly a Fortune 500 company. Today, Denise Coates is co-CEO of British-based sports betting powerhouse Bet365. Through its online presence, the company offers wagering to people in countries spanning the globe, including Bet365 Canada.
It was the vision of Denise Coates that made this all possible. And because of it, Bet365 is a massive company. Their online betting site saw gamblers place £52.5billion worth of bets with Bet365 last year. That total is larger than the annual Gross Domestic Product of both Croatia and Uruguay. The company cleared a profit of £791 million.
The success has turned Coates into the highest-paid CEO in the United Kingdom. She earned £330 million last year. She’s listed as the second wealthiest woman in the UK, with a net worth of $6.5 billion US. The Coates family are also the highest taxpayers in the country. They paid an astonishing £573 million in tax last year.
Entering The Family Business
You could say that Denise Coates was born into sports betting. Her father Peter was working as a miner when he purchased a chain of betting shops called Provincial Racing in his hometown of Stoke.
While still a high-school student, Denise Coates began working in her father’s betting shops as a cashier. She headed off to the University of Sheffield, where she studied econometrics. When she returned to home armed with her degree, Coates began work in the accounting area of the family business, but quickly found it to be a dry, humdrum existence.
Besides, she had much bigger plans in mind for the future of their family business.
Harnessing The World Wide Web
By 1995, Coates was working as the business manager of their betting shop franchise. It wasn’t long after that when she went to her father with a blueprint to turn their betting company into a global empire.
“I was convinced early on that gambling would work well on the internet,” Denise Coates told the Stoke Sentinel. “It is private, accessible and allows you to present a huge range of betting opportunities to customers.”
Her plan was to build a betting website, but rather than acquire their computer software from a third-party site, Coates believed the best way to go about it was to assemble a development team and create their own unique software programs. It also meant that the family would maintain 100 percent control of their company.
However, to complete such a massive undertaking was going to cost them plenty. Denise managed to talk her father into taking out a £15 million loan against their retail betting shops to pay for the development of the website. Originally, Coates operated her new business out of a portable office building situated in a car park in Stoke.
“This meant we had to put a software development team together and that did indeed take shape in a portable building on a car park near one of our shops between Trentham and Longton,” Coates said.
She purchased the domain named Bet365 in 2000 and their site was up and operational in 2001, although to say it was an instant smash success would be a misnomer.
Time would prove her right. By 2006, Bet365 was so successful that the Coates family opted to sell their retail betting shops to rival Coral for £40m. They used the profits from the sale of those shops to pay off their loan.
“The internet gave us the opportunity to enter a new and international market where we had the possibility of being the best,” Coates said.
Through all their success, the Coates family have kept their global betting empire situated in Stoke, where the family still lives. Bet365 is the largest employer in the city.
“I am a local person and it is important to me that the area is as successful as it can be,” Coates said. “It’s great to show that what is essentially a technology firm can be successful in this area. The area has its fair share of bad press, but it is home to a lot of talented, hard-working people.”