UK business news source The Financial Times (FT) has profiled bet365’s founder and Co-CEO Denise Coates. The profile, written by Enterprise Editor Andrew Bounds, describes Coates as the ‘driving force’ behind the operator’s success and rapid growth.
In a period of 15 years bet365 has become the world’s largest online gambling operator employing more than 2000 staff, making the company Stoke’s largest employer. As an integral part of Stoke’s community, the firm has invested in several local charities and owns Stoke City Football Club.
As Denise Coates owns 50.2% of the business, the FT and Forbes value her net worth at £2.4 billion. Her brother and Co-CEO John Coates owns 25% of the firm, with the rest split between other relatives.
The profile piece details Denise Coates’ initial business years, where having completed a first class honours degree in accountancy at Sheffield University, she decided to enter the family bookmaker business.
Coates grew a successful business to 50 betting shops, however in 2000 she decided that the future of the business needed to be focused on digital enterprise. Coates would set up bet365.com, and would gradually sell off retail assets to aid its digital expansion.
“I felt that as a chain of betting shops, we would only ever be a regional player, while with the online business, I felt we could become a leading global player. At first it was very difficult to get funding as the initial internet bubble had [burst] and nobody wanted to lend to a start-up online business,” Coates said.
The gamble paid off as bet365 quickly outshone betting legacy brands Ladbrokes and Coral to become the UK’s second biggest bookmaker behind William Hill. bet365 is renowned in the igaming space as sector innovators with a deep focus on in-house development, which has aided the operator in bringing ‘first to market’ products such as live betting.
“The decision to develop our own sports betting software was a key one. I just felt that we had to have a point of difference and that has proved to be the case”
The thoughtful profile of Coates and her business by the FT further details the Coates family’s numerous charitable donations and their passion for growing Stoke’s enterprise.