A woman who transformed her father's chain of betting shops into an online gambling behemoth has paid herself £482 million ($620 million) in the last two years.
The annual pay of Denise Coates, the co-chief executive of Bet365, has risen to £265 million, according to the firm's latest accounts. Her pay packet increased by £48 million from the £217 million she received the previous year.
Coates is the U.K.'s highest-paid director, earning more than 1,700 times the annual salary of Prime Minister Theresa May. In 2018, Forbes estimated her total wealth at £4 billion.
While a schoolgirl, Coates worked in her father's betting shops and after training as an accountant took over the small chain of stores. After improving the firm's fortunes, Coates persuaded her family to borrow £15 million to set up an online firm.
"We mortgaged the betting shops and put it all into online. We knew the industry required big start-up costs but… we gambled everything on it. We were the ultimate gamblers if you like," she told The Guardian newspaper in 2012.
According to several media reports, Coates built the online business from a temporary building sited in the car park of one of the betting shops.
The original chain of shops was sold in 2005 as the company put its full weight behind Bet365.com. Twelve years later, and the firm has reported an annual revenue of £647 million.
Coates owns 50.01 percent of the company and runs the firm jointly with her brother, John Coates.
In 2015, Bet365 moved its headquarters to Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on Spain's south coast. The territory grants favorable regulations to the gambling industry.
Britain's gambling industry is facing greater public scrutiny, and many now expect the government to reverse years of loosening regulations.
Coates' bumper pay packet has also attracted negative attention. Share Action, a U.K. group that represents smaller investors, described the amount as "blood-curdling" and "disgraceful," before claiming that 50,000 under-17s in Britain are addicted to gambling.