The boss of gambling firm Bet365 was paid more than £200m in just one year – making it one of the biggest salaries ever awarded in the UK.
The highest paid director of Bet365 Group, believed to be founder Denise Coates, earned a salary of £213.4m in the year to March 2022.
She also received a large share of the company’s payout of £100m in dividends, despite a fall in profits.
Bet365 did not immediately respond to the BBC’s request for comment.
But campaign groups such as the High Pay Centre hit out at the announcement, arguing it served as a reminder that “too much [money] is going to too few people” in the UK economy.
Its spokesman Andrew Speke said: “It shows if the government wanted to provide greater support to those struggling and increase the pay of striking public sector workers facing real wage cuts, increasing tax on high incomes and wealth would be one of the most effective ways of funding this.”
Ms Coates founded the Bet365 website in a portable building in Stoke-on-Trent more than 20 years ago. She is thought to be one of Britain’s richest women and among the best-paid bosses in the world.
Having trained as an accountant who later took over a number of her family’s betting shops which were sold to Coral, she remains joint chief executive alongside her brother.
According to the latest company accounts published on Friday, Ms Coates received a salary of £213.4m for the year, down 15% from her £250m salary the year before.
As the majority owner of the business, she is also entitled to at least half of the £100m in dividends paid out to shareholders in that time.
But piling money into efforts to expand internationally saw the group’s profits dive.
Bet365 made a profit before tax of £49.8m for the year, taking into account a £26.2m loss from its ownership of Stoke City Football Club, much less than the £469m profit seen in 2021.
The group also saw its wage bill go up significantly, with more than 6,000 employees now on the payroll.
In the year to 29 March 2022, the business turned over £2.9bn in total, an increase of 2% compared with the year before.
Its reports also describe how it invested heavily in advertising and IT systems, having previously benefitted from a boom during the pandemic.
Gambling revenues across the group rose by 2% during the year to £2.85bn. While sales from sports betting fell, online games revenues jumped by 25% during the year.
The group also highlighted launches in the Netherlands, Buenos Aires and Colorado in its latest report.
Closer to home, the filings pointed out that charitable donations of about £100m had been made through the Denise Coates Foundation.
The eldest of four children, Ms Coates worked part time for the family firm while still at school, before gaining a first-class degree in econometrics. She later returned to the firm to train as an accountant.
She has previously been described as one of the UK’s “most successful women”, spotting the opportunity that online platforms presented.
In a rare interview with a local newspaper, Ms Coates once said: “I was convinced early on that gambling would work well on the internet. It is private, accessible and allows you to present a huge range of betting opportunities to customers.”