Gaming Giant bet365 Paid over £181 Million in Taxes for 2018

BET surrounded by coins

30-second summary

  • Britain’s highest-paid boss, Denise Coates, paid second-highest tax bill
  • Stephen Rubin, majority owner of JD Sports, paid the most
  • Coates criticized previously for salary increase
  • Critics blame rise in gambling among vulnerable on operators

The annual Sunday Times tax list has just been released, and the bet365 family sits only one place from the top.

The annual list, which ranks the largest contributions paid to the UK exchequer in the most recent tax year, estimated the Coates family’s wealth to be around £5.8bn ($7.6bn).

This year, the tax list shows that Denise Coates (the majority owner of the company), her co-CEO and brother John, and chairman and father Peter, paid a corporation tax of £26.8m ($35.3m), with an £84m ($110.6m) dividend paid out.

Based in the UK

bet365 has a long history in the UK. Coates has kept the firm in Stoke-on-Trent, where the local economy has suffered due to the decline of the ceramics, mining, and steel industries.

She met her husband Richard Smith 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 persuaded her family to mortgage all their betting shops to build an online business.

Her husband is now the group property director, and the company also employs her father Peter and her brother John.

Overseas operations

One thing to consider is that the tax list does not take taxes paid overseas into consideration. The newspaper noted that this would have increased the Coates’ contributions: bet365 is estimated to have paid a further £51.4m ($67.7m) in other countries.

For bet365 Group’s financial year ending March 25, 2018, the business saw turnover grow 25% year-on-year to £2.86bn ($3.77bn), with sports and gaming turnover contributing the vast majority (£2.71bn; $3.57bn) of the total.

These figures come from the 19% corporation tax paid on all company profits; the 38.1% tax on dividends; the 10% capital gains tax paid on sales of businesses or business units, and the 45% income tax rate for earnings above £150,000 ($197,502).

The Coates family has also supported good causes through the Denise Coates Foundation, which was established in 2012 and has since donated more than £100m ($131.7m) to a range of charitable projects.

In the operator’s financial year ending March 25, 2018, the company made a £75m ($98.8m) donation to the foundation.

Critics

Denise Coates has had a lot of critics, however, after she announced a bumper pay packet in 2018 at the same time that several vulnerable gambling issues were in the media spotlight.

She earned £220m ($290m) in 2018 and received another £90m ($118.5m) from dividends of the company. That made her the UK’s highest-paid director.

Critics called her earnings “obscene” and “disgusting” after it emerged that 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 ruined while the CEO of a betting company is paid 22 times more than the whole industry ‘donates’ to treatment. Disgusting.”

One Twitter user commented: “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?”

Benefits

Still, the Sunday Times was quick to stress the importance of tax lists such as these.

Robert Watts, who compiles the Tax List and The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “It’s hard to deny that the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, and other high-profile scandals have given the impression that none of Britain’s wealthy elite contribute a penny to our public finances.

“But our inaugural Sunday Times Tax List shows which of the super-rich are contributing many of millions of pounds a year. These are large sums of money – the size that do not merely pay for a nurse, but pay to build the hospital in which they work.”

Overall, the Coates family was the highest-ranked gambling-related contributor on the Sunday Times Tax List, with Peter Cruddas and family, who founded spread betting giant CMC Markets, ranked 48th. CMC paid taxes of £10.4m ($13.7m) in the 2017-18 financial year with dividends of £25.7m ($33.8m), with Cruddas estimated to have paid £364,000 ($479,000) in income tax on his £845,800 ($1.14m) salary.