12/30/11 : British online bookmaker reports GBP 91 million profit despite losses on football club
UK internet bookie Bet365 says that in-play betting has made an important contribution to its impressive full year results, which illustrate that the company is bigger online than the internet divisions of rivals William Hill plc and Ladbrokes plc combined.
Takings for the year to 31 March rose 22 percent to GBP 501million as bets rose 58 percent, enabling the Coates family, who own the business, to take out a GBP 25 million dividend for the third year running in a difficult economic environment.
The group made a pre-tax profit of GBP 91million despite absorbing rising losses from its majority stake in Premier League football club Stoke City, the Guardian newspaper reports. Bet365's share of losses from the club, which is chaired by 73-year-old Peter Coates, almost doubled to GBP 7.4 million.
Profits from online betting and gaming operations in Stoke and Gibraltar stayed broadly flat at GBP 93.7million, on turnover of GBP 439 million, after bet365 invested heavily in internet and mobile technology as well as expensive advertising campaigning.
The Guardian reveals that bet365 was started by Denise Coates from a single portable building with funding from her father's betting shops business in 2000. It is now said to employ more than 1,400 people.
The group is the last major online bookmaker still on the UK mainland, after Ladbrokes and William Hill last year shifted operations offshore with the loss of hundreds of jobs. Bet365 also has operations in Gibraltar, where it takes casino, bingo and poker wagers.
Denise Coates owns just over half the shares in bet365, which have generated dividend payouts in the last three years totalling GBP 37.5 million.
Bet365 does not disclose which countries its revenues come from but the business is acknowledged as the clear market leader in online sports bookmaking in the UK. In addition the site is available in 17 languages and reportedly serves 6 million customers worldwide. It has recently been exploring moves into newly licensed markets of Australia, the Netherlands and Spain.
Bet365 has a strong track record in donations to charities. Last year it gave more than GBP 400,000 to charitable causes, with the majority going to a responsible-gambling charity and the rest going to disability, children's and local groups.