Bookmaker news of the week features Bet365, Betfred

By Martin Green25 November 2018
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Bet365 chief executive Denise Coates paid herself £265 million in 2017, making her the UK’s best-paid boss. The billionaire has a base salary of £220 million and afforded herself dividend payments of £45 million, meaning she earned 9,500 times the UK average salary -- 1,700 times more than the prime minister and double that of the entire Stoke City squad, the team her family owns. Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said her “eye-watering pay package” was “irresponsible and excessive.”

“In any circumstance it is hard to justify, but more so given the money comes from people struggling with compulsive gambling,” Cable said. “This is an industry body needing tighter regulation. We have started high-stake gaming machines. We now need to move into online gambling, and curbing the advertising around it.”

Luke Hildyard, a director of the High Pay Centre, said: “Why does someone who is already a billionaire need to take such an obscene amount of money out of their company? It is difficult to find a reason beyond pure greed.”

Read The Guardian for more reaction to Bet365’s annual accounts.

Punter Taking Betfred To Court

Betfred is locked in a bitter dispute with an online casino punter who went out and enjoyed a lavish party to celebrate a £1.7 million jackpot win. Andrew Green was playing Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven on his phone and turned a £3 stake into the huge win on the collective jackpot game. He spent £2,500 on his celebrations, but it turned to despair after Betfred told him it was a glitch with the Playtech software and that he had not actually won anything. Betfred agreed to cover the cost of his celebrations and pay him £60,000 in compensation, but Green rejected it and he is now taking his case to the High Court.

“They are quick to take people’s money,” he said, “but when it comes to paying out they offered money as a gagging agreement. They have buried their head in the sand. How many are there out there who have signed similar agreements? I’ve been bullied. They are a multibillion company.”

The case continues. Read The Times for more.

Ireland Tax Plan Revisited

Ireland’s government could make a dramatic climb-down over plans to double gambling tax from 1% to 2%. Many bookmakers have said it will force shop closures, cost people their jobs and harm the industry. In an 11th-hour concession to the industry, finance minister Paschal Donohoe ordered a report on the tax rise’s impact to be presented to the Finance Committee by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Irish Bookmakers Association chair Sharon Byrne told iGamingBusiness: “We are grateful the government have committed to doing a review early in 2019. This is critical as it will prove how a 100% increase is simply a tax on jobs and unsustainable. It cannot happen quick enough.”

UK Commission Reveals Staggering Issue With Children

The UK Gambling Commission has delivered a stark verdict on the prevalence of gambling among children, claiming they are more likely to bet than smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs. It reported that the scale of addiction is growing, and addiction charities have reacted with fury. Many of them are calling for a clampdown on gambling ads and tighter regulations on the industry. The number of TV ads for betting companies has risen by 600% over the past decade, and many are calling for a ban. The Times has more on the details of the UKGC’s study.