Denise Coates — the woman who built an empire

She’s officially the richest woman in Britain. But how did Bet365's Denise Coates go from local bookie to billionaire several times over?

How rich is Denise Coates? In the time it takes her to blink, she earns £5. Every hour, she earns around £54,000. By the end of the day, she’ll have £1.3 million.

Coates, the co-CEO of Bet365, earned £469 million last year, salary and dividends included, making her Britain’s richest woman. That’s an amount of money so ridiculous that not even the profligacy of a deranged Roman emperor would be able to spend it.

With Coates’ income – not net worth, but income – you could afford a fleet of eight G700 Gulfstream jets, or a couple of nuclear-powered Trafalgar-class submarines, or even 3,500 Patek Philippe Grand Complications watches. You could buy the Caribbean islands of Spectabilis, Cave Cay, and Darby with enough spare change to pick up five Falcon 9 rockets from SpaceX. Back down on earth, you could fund the entire NHS for a day or two.

The Bet365 offices in Stoke-on-Trent
The Bet365 offices in Stoke-on-Trent

Coates, 53, has a fortune of £4.7 billion which grew out of the small chain of betting shops that she took over from her father in Stoke-on-Trent more than 20 years ago. Hers is an incredible story of success, but nobody reaches the top 20 of the Sunday Times Rich List without avoiding scandal.

Straight out of the gate, Coates was criticised for paying herself such an insane pile of money. The High Pay Centre, a business think tank, questioned why Coates needed this income, which, if you haven’t had enough of these comparisons yet, would probably be enough to buy a brand new Lotus Elise every day for the rest of her life.

Instead, she is using the money to build a luxury pad in a Cheshire village worthy of Blofeld’s lair in the Bond film Spectre. It’s going to be a giant glass “statement house” with a lake, boat house, cycle track, indoor pool and a number of rooms for plants. There are also plans for a sunken tennis court, a summer house, stables and two-metre high fences that will be patrolled by 24-hour security teams. She has even snapped up nearby properties to bulldoze them and add their land to her estate.

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