Bet365 Posts $93M Loss in 2023 as Owner Denise Coates Took $345M Salary

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Bet365, the UK-based global gambling operator, reported a notable pretax loss of £72.6 million ($93 million) in its latest financial year.

That stands in stark contrast to the previous year’s profit of £49.8 million. This loss is primarily attributed to the company’s aggressive expansion into North American markets, including various states in the U.S. and Ontario, Canada.

Despite this setback, Bet365 experienced a 19% increase in revenue, reaching £3.39 billion ($4.32 billion), bolstered by soccer betting on the 2023 World Cup in Qatar and a 31% growth in online casinos.

Amidst these financial fluctuations, Denise Coates, the CEO and founder of Bet365, has seen significant media attention over this week after announcing her substantial yearly salary of £270.7 million ($345 million). That’s an increase from the previous year’s £213 million ($272 million).

This salary, although one of the biggest salaried pay-packets in the world, marks a decrease from her 2020 compensation, which was higher than the combined salaries of all CEOs in the FTSE 100 Index.

Coates’ earnings are primarily salary-based due to Bet365 being a privately-owned family business. All of that helps make her the single biggest British taxpayer, with some $45 million sent to His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs over the year.

Increased Costs and Revenue Growth

Although Bet365’s continued U.S. expansion in 2023 saw it mentioned on our recap of the biggest stories of last year in sports betting, it is now clear that expansion came at some cost for the operator. Though apparently, not its owner’s salary.  

The financial year saw Bet365 grappling with increased costs, especially technology improvements and promotional investments in its U.S. markets.

Over 2023, the British operator went from two U.S. markets to seven. In 2021, Bet365 was only available for New Jersey sports betting. But going into 2024, it has launched for sports betting in Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa, Louisiana, Colorado, and Virginia.

This led to a surge in administrative and promotional expenses totaling £585.2 million.

However, those losses were offset by increased revenues and a growing customer base. This is the perceived logic among most operators in American sports betting, bar maybe Fanatics. In the currently booming U.S. gambling market, most operator strategies have involved large initial outlays to gain customer bases that they think will result in long-term profits.

However, with almost all ‘books bar leading operator FanDuel posting yearly losses in 2022 and 2023, (pending the final quarter publications), the logic of this argument is being tested.

Nevertheless, Bet365 has aggressively followed that path and it has paid off in revenues.

The company pulled in £3.41 billion ($4.334 billion) in 2023, up from £2.84 billion ($3.609 billion) the year before, thanks in part to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The company’s sports betting revenues rose by 15%, while online casino revenues increased by 31%. This growth was accompanied by a 29% rise in new customers.

Bet365 attributes this success to enhancements in their Bet Builder and Bet Boost products and their expanding presence in the U.S. and Canada.

However, the British operator does not publish revenue breakdown by markets. It is widely considered that this is partly because Bet365 operates in several major international grey and black markets, including China.

As far back as 2014, the company was reported to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, offshore sportsbooks in China – despite customers in the authoritarian state risking jail time for using the platform.

Coates has also been criticized for her huge wages by various groups in her home country of the UK.

Strategic Focus and Future Outlook

Even with all that, Bet365 remains one of the largest gambling businesses in the world. And it is still independently owned by the same woman who started it in a temporary office in a parking lot in Stoke, England, 20 years ago.

Coates, in her yearly notes, emphasized Bet365’s “quality over quantity” approach to gaming, which has driven revenue increases over the past three years.

This strategy involves improved localization in key markets, integration of content from leading providers, optimization of in-house game content, and licensing unique game mechanics. Coates highlighted the significant investment in Bet365’s proprietary Games Recommendation Engine and the strategic growth of the live casino segment, which has been a priority for the past three years​​.

Bet365’s future strategy includes continued expansion into new regulated markets, leveraging its long-standing experience.

“Entering into new markets requires high initial investment. However, the directors remain confident that these markets will deliver a significant contribution to the group in future periods,” the company said in a statement.

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