Bet365 founder Denise Coates was named Britain’s top taxpayer for the second consecutive year after handing over £573 million to the Treasury. Coates set up the business from a portakabin outside one of her father’s betting shops in Stoke. It is now a global gambling empire with a market leading position in several countries around the world.
That has allowed Coates to amass an estimated wealth of more than £7 billion. She became Britain’s top taxpayer when she received a £276 million bill from the Treasury for the 2018/19 tax year, and it shot up to £573 million for 2019/20. The tax paid by Coates, her brother John and her father Peter is equal to the price of 62,725 state pensions for a year.
Billionaire businessman Glenn Gordon, the chairman of Glenfiddich and Hendricks gin producer William Grant & Sons, was second in the list. He and his family had a tax liability of £436 million on wealth of £3.19 billion, according to the Sunday Times Tax List.
Another gambling industry heavyweight was third on the list. Fred and Peter Done, owners of Betfred, paid £191.3 million after a strong year for their business. Fred Done is also a substantial shareholder in William Hill, so he will be in line for a large payout when its £3 billion sale to Caesars Entertainment goes through.
The Betting & Gaming Council wasted no time in reminding the Treasury how important the gambling industry is to the British economy after the Sunday Times Tax List was revealed.
Chief executive Michael Dugher said: “The betting and gaming industry makes a huge contribution to the economy, supporting jobs and the tax base. I’m sure none of this is lost on the Treasury as the country emerges from Covid, with all the pressures that this has inevitably placed on the public finances.”
Bet365 employs more than 5,000 people and Betfred has around 2,000 staff. Betting & Gaming Council members include Bet365, Betfred and William Hill, along with other major players like Paddy Power, SkyBet and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment, Ladbrokes owner Entain, Betway, 888 and Unibet.
The tax revenue generated by the top 50 taxpayers is nearly £680 million higher than last year, up 27% to £3.18 billion. This was due to tax paid on an exceptional £982.5 million of dividends to shareholders at William Grant, and a change in the list’s methodology, which now counts gambling duties paid by betting businesses.
“These numbers illustrate that when some wealthy people prosper our public finances do feel a benefit,” said Robert Watts, who was in charge of compiling the list. “After the pandemic has passed the Chancellor will need to maximise income from these individuals without driving them or their businesses away from the UK.”
William Hill has switched its entire electricity supply to renewable energy sources as part of a wider commitment to decarbonising the business. It saw the firm switch energy suppliers from Grid Electricity to Total Gas and Power, with whom it signed a three-year contract.
It means that William Hill’s energy now comes entirely from solar, wind and hydro sources. This will save more than 60,000 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of around 38,000 cars in the UK. William Hill has also introduced smart metering across all of its betting, which it is designed to further reduce CO2 emissions.
“We have prioritised the environment as being extremely important to William Hill and have committed to becoming a carbon neutral business,” said chief procurement officer David Medori. “We have established aggressive targets over five years in CO2 reduction on energy, waste, transportation and water. All metrics are on target and we have an environmental management forum for driving through key initiatives and ensuring these are on both operating and PLC board agenda.
“The year 2020 was key in both absolute CO2 reduction being driven down by nearly 50% from 2019, going fully renewable sourced electricity and the start of a full rollout program of electricity smart meters that will for the first time enable a monitoring and targeting program to be deployed which will drive further incremental CO2 down in 2021 and 2022.”