Home Gambling Industry Bet365's charitable arm reduces donations as revenue soars

Bet365's charitable arm reduces donations as revenue soars

02 Jan 2022
4 min. read

Denise Coates
Denise Coates, one of the richest women in gambling and the head of online gambling company Bet365, has taken the company in a new direction. She has cut donations to charity from £9 million to £6 million ($12.16 million to $8.11 million). This comes as the company's reserves increase despite having almost half of its reserves increasing to £568 million ($767.7 million), almost 50% higher than they previously were.

Companies House has filed accounts detailing the charitable activity of the Coates-led foundation. She was Britain's highest-paid woman and her £421-million ($569.2 million) payout-and-dividend package in 2020 saw her earn more than £1 billion ($1.35 billion) over four years.

The accounts show that divisions of her Stoke-based Bet365 empire donated £100 million towards the Denise Coates Fund in the year up to 28 March 2021. Investments held by the charity increased in value by £86.5 million.

These twin gains led to a 48% increase in the charity's reserves, which rose from £385.3 million to £568.4 million. However, charitable donations fell from £9 million to £6.2 million. According to the accounts, donations were "constrained" due to the activities of the charities. Future years will see a rebound in grant volume, it asserts.

The Denise Coates Foundation's reserves increased by £183 million. However, the accounts show that the charity regulator doesn't have any strict policies regarding how much should be kept relative to donations. In 2016, Charity Commission guidance stated that there is no single level or even a variety of reserves that are right for all charities.

The guidance states that organizations with larger reserves than they need could re-examine their spending and that trustees should consider whether the purpose of the charity should change to allow it to function more effectively.

In comments attached to its accounts, the Denise Coates Foundation addresses the amount of reserves it has. The charity states that it uses the donations received from the Coates family businesses empire to increase its cash reserves and investments. This was up from £385.3 million in 2003 to £568.3 million in 2013. The income and gains from investments are then divided over the course of one to five years.

The accounts state that the policy should enable the foundation to function on an enduring basis without having to depend on donations from any single source. The charity raised the amount of "unrestricted funds" available for donations from £15.5 million in the last year to £20.2 million.

In 2021, £1.9 million was donated to University Hospitals of North Midlands. This is the NHS trust in Stoke-on-Trent. It is the home of the Coates family, who own the Stoke City soccer team and have established Bet365 there.

Denise Coates, a woman worth more than £8 billion with her family, made a £10-million donation last April to the trust to help staff fight the coronavirus pandemic. The foundation donated 17 funds to 12 institutions. This included a £500,000 grant for the Chronic Disease Research Foundation, which was used to study COVID-19. Douglas Macmillan Hospice was also among the recipients, receiving £300,000. This money will be used to fund care for 137 patients. The charity also donated £200,000 to a COVID-19 appeal by Catholic overseas development organization Cafod, and £300,000.00 towards Kick4Life. This project builds a sports stadium in Lesotho for social change.

This year and last, the charity did not donate any funds to charities that tackle gambling-related harm.

Bet365, like other gambling companies, donates to gambling-related charities through a voluntary industry-wide tax. Campaigners argue that this should be mandatory to address the shortage of treatment options for gamblers in the UK.

The roots of the company are found in the network established by Peter Coates in Stoke-on-Trent. Denise is his daughter and is credited for spotting the potential of taking bets online and building Bet365 into an innovative and highly profitable betting company with a global reach.

Bet365 saw an 8.8% drop in revenue to £2.81 billion, partly due to the cancellation of sporting events because of the pandemic. Operating profit dropped 74% to £194.7 million from £758.3 million.

02 Jan 2022
4 min. read