Saturday December 28,2013 : ONLINE GAMBLING GROUP NAMED IN U.K. POLITICAL ALLEGATIONS
UK Opposition leader Ed Miliband accused of hypocrisy in accepting bet365 donations.
The British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has been attacked by the Daily Mail newspaper – known for its anti-gambling views – for alleged hypocrisy in accepting substantial political donations from the successful online gambling group bet365 founder, Peter Coates.
Miliband has recently been active in developing political capital from his vociferous opposition to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in High Street bookie shops, and for his promise to empower local councils to restrict the proliferation of betting shops in British shopping areas
However, the Daily Mail claims, Miliband's party "….has had good reason to be grateful as more people are being lured into gambling online", citing over GBP 400,000 in donations from Coates since 2004.
The newspaper details the donations:
* GBP 10,000 to party leader Ed Miliband’s private office last year,
* In April GBP 5,000 to Tristram Hunt, the shadow schools secretary, who is the MP for Coates's area Stoke-on-Trent Central.
* GBP 50,000 in 2004; another GBP 100,000 in 2005; and GBP 150,000 more in 2007.
* In 2009, Labour received GBP 100,000 from Hillside (New Media) Ltd, which allegedly owns bet365.
"These figures leave Labour – and particularly Ed Miliband – open to charges of rank hypocrisy," the newspaper fulminates.
"For despite being given hundreds of thousands by the country’s biggest gambling tycoon, he went on the offensive last week about the pervasive influence of gambling in British life."
The Mail goes on to remind its leaders of how successful bet365 is as a company run by Denise Coates, daughter of the founder, noting that more than a third of bet365’s profits come from its Gibraltar-based subsidiary to avoid high British taxation.
"Between 2009 and 2011, it paid a 10 percent rate of corporation tax in Gibraltar – compared with 28 percent in the UK at the time – saving GBP 13 million," the Mail claims.
"Gibraltar Companies House records show one of the Coates family companies, Hillside (Gibraltar) Ltd, made profits there of GBP 36.5 million in 2010-11, yet still managed to receive a tax rebate of GBP 668,000.
"The family also has three non-trading subsidiaries in the tax havens of Malta, the Dutch Antilles and Alderney in the Channel Islands, which could be activated as new offshore arms in the future."
Peter Coates is described as an exemplar of a working-class boy who made good in the article, which recalls that he was one of 14 children in a family brought up in a mining community and headed by a hard working miner.
Coates left school with no qualifications at age 14, served his national military commitment as a paratrooper and then ran a fast food restaurant before making his first fortune selling fast-food to football clubs through his company Stadia Catering in the ‘Sixties and ‘Seventies.
He then switched to the gambling industry, building up a chain of 49 betting shops.
His daughter Denise persuaded him in 2000 to take advantage of the nascent online gambling business opportunity by mortgaging the shops and putting everything into founding and building the online gambling enterprise that is bet365 today – a company that offers a wide variety of gambling choices in sports and casino betting and can boast two million customers in 200 countries.
Last year, bet365 had a turnover of GBP 18 billion – up more than 50 percent on the previous year – with pre-tax profits of GBP 180 million. The family’s fortune has been estimated at GBP 925 million.
Head of the family Peter Coates, a life-long Labour Party supporter who has invested heavily in the Stoke City football club, is said to be unapologetic about his donations to the Labour Party. The Mail uses a 2009 quote from Coates to illustrate the point:
"I’ve supported the Labour Party all my life. I have been a member since I was in my 20s. I’ve asked for no favours for the gambling industry, and wouldn’t get any favours from the government.
"I have never given a penny to the party with the expectation of getting anything in return. I have got higher principles than that."