Boss Lady

The woman who transformed the male-dominated sports betting industry


The story of the British businesswoman that revolutionised the previously male-dominated sports betting industry is an inspirational one. Denise Coates is the founder, majority shareholder and joint chief executive of online sports betting company Bet365.

A true British success story, Coates has an estimated net worth of over $12 billion and made headlines in 2020 when earning an annual salary of £422m and was paid dividends of £48m. The 53-year-old is one of Britain’s wealthiest women and rates as the highest-paid chief executive for many years.

Denise and her fellow bet365 directors have stuck to their roots and kept the head office in Stoke-on-Trent, England, but the bookies’ influence stretches far and wide. As the best sportsbook review proves, Bet365 has a presence in every nation where gambling is legal and is already making progress in the United States, where the laws concerning sports and casino betting are changing.

A working-class heroine

Coates isn’t just a woman holding her own in an industry dominated by men. She is a woman who is now running what was once an industry dominated by men. Her company has, almost single-handedly, changed online sports betting, and under her guidance, it continues to drive change. Denise may be one of the biggest names in business and sports, but things haven’t always been so rosy, and the unremarkable girl from Staffordshire has worked her way up through the ranks of business.

Denise comes from a hard-working family, and she inherited that work ethic. Her grandfather was a miner, and her father dropped out of school early to work in an office to help the family make ends meet. He, too, built from the ground up, eventually becoming chairman of English football side Stoke City. Little is known or written about Denise’s early years, but she arrived on the scene when graduating from the University of Sheffield with a first-class degree in econometrics. That’s when the young lady began to show glimmers of her brilliant business brain and set her on the path to riches.

Betting was always in her blood, even from a very early age and there are records that show she was employed in the cashiers’ department of a respected bookmaker. The trade was also in her family. The sportsbook she worked for was named Provincial Racing and was owned by close family members. It’s in that position she appeared to realise her calling.

After graduating from university, Coates progressed to the position of an accountant but was, all the time, learning the ropes, figuring out the secrets to good betting practices and planning ways in which she could improve things. She wanted to bring an outdated industry into the modern era, using technology to bring gambling to the people.

The gambling enthusiast took a punt on herself

With these lofty ambitions, she acquired a business loan from a major high street bank and bought over a chain of betting offices in 1995. Five short years later she snapped up the available domain name and the online betting brand was launched less than 12 months later. Many see Denise and her betting business as an overnight sensation. She got lucky, timed it perfectly and got in early using family money to take advantage of the brave new world that was online gambling.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, she got dirt under her fingernails, working while studying and studying the gambling industry from the inside out. She knew what it meant to make a bookies work and she knew what it meant to keep bettors happy. This information added to the ambition, drive and grand ideas, she carved out success. Not only did she modernise betting in the way we gamble today, but she did it against all the odds as a woman and, in doing so, helped encourage many more females into the industry.

Coates, the owner and brains behind bet365, is a lover of sports and gambling who decided to take a punt on herself. It was a long shot, she was the outsider of the field and the industry was trying desperately to halt the progress she dreamed of. But, like any successful woman in any line of business, there was no stopping her.

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