Denise Coates CBE (born 26 September 1967) is an English businesswoman, founder and joint chief executive of online gambling company Bet365. She has been listed in the Forbes magazine’s rich list, with an estimated personal fortune of $2.5 billion (approximately £1.65 billion).
Denise Coates is the eldest daughter of Peter Coates, chairman of Stoke City F.C. and director of Bet365, and is married to Richard Smith, a director at Stoke City Football Club. She attended the University of Sheffield and achieved a first class degree in econometrics.
While at school, Coates started work in the cashiers’ department within the family bookmaking firm, Provincial Racing, where she would mark up bets. After leaving university she trained as an accountant within the family business, before being given the opportunity to take over the small chain of shops. Having turned around the shops’ fortunes, Coates obtained a loan from Barclays to acquire a neighbouring chain. In 1995, she became managing director of the betting shop estate.
In January 2000, Coates purchased the domain name Bet365.com. While working in a temporary building on a car park near one of her shops, she spent a year creating a new online betting site. Bet365.com was launched in 2001. The business borrowed £15 million from RBS against the family’s betting shop estate.
In 2005 these shops were sold to Coral for £40 million which also paid off the loan to RBS. Since its inception Bet365 has grown into one of the world’s largest online gambling companies, which Coates still runs alongside her brother John. She is the majority shareholder with 50.01% of the shares. Her personal fortune is estimated at $2.5 billion (£1.65 billion) on Forbes magazine’s 28th annual rich list. This makes her the 723rd richest person in the world.