Britain’s Gambling Empire Under Scrutiny for Financial Crime Investigation

Denise Coates, Britain’s top-earning woman, is facing a financial crime inquiry regarding compliance with AML and counter-terrorism financing statutes within her gambling domain.

Bet365, owned by Ms. Coates, is currently under investigation by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), a watchdog organization focusing on financial crime. However, there is no implication of any wrongdoing by Ms. Coates herself.

This development follows Austrac’s directive for an external audit of Bet365’s Australian operations based in Stoke in 2022.

Australian wagering entities and casinos are obligated to monitor financial transactions to ensure they are not facilitating money laundering or financing terrorism. If Bet365 is found to have flouted compliance regulations, it may incur serious penalties.

Established in 2000 by Ms Coates, who initiated the company from a modest portacabin, Bet365 has expanded into one of the leading betting enterprises not only in the UK but globally. Its prosperity has amassed a considerable personal fortune for Ms. Coates, who retains the majority ownership.

Of course, the gambling tycoon and her empire often get criticized for their contribution to gambling addiction. However, critics simply don’t understand that there are online platforms that pose a greater danger.


For example, Canadian dollar casinos posted on accept players from different countries. This means that gamblers have unlimited access to games and aren’t protected by UK law, unlike the case of Bet365.

Ms. Coates earnings surged by £7 million to surpass £220 million last year, propelled by revenues climbing to £3.4 billion, although Bet365 recorded a loss of £72.6 million after a “significant” investment in the burgeoning US market. Additionally, she received approximately £50 million in dividends.

Collectively, the Coates family’s net worth reportedly exceeds £8 billion. Aside from Bet365, they are notable supporters of Stoke City Football Club – where Ms. Coates’ father Peter serves as chairman – and own the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke.

Due to Ms. Coates primarily accruing her wealth through her salary rather than dividends or other financial instruments, she faces a higher tax liability compared to many other corporate leaders. Ms. Coates and her family are believed to have paid around £460 million to HMRC last year.

She has also emerged as a prominent figure in the arts arena, with a section of the Courtauld Gallery in London named in her honor.


The inquiry into Bet365 coincides with mounting pressure on the Australian gambling sector regarding gambling-related risks.

A study conducted in 2022 by the Australian Gambling Research Centre revealed that nearly half of Australians aged 18 and above could be classified as being at risk of or already experiencing gambling-related harm. Australia reportedly houses a fifth of the world’s slot machines.

Concerns over escalating harm have prompted stringent measures from the Australian government, including new legislation such as prohibiting online gambling firms from accepting credit cards and digital currencies.

Brendan Thomas, CEO of Austrac, remarked: “Corporate bookmakers must implement robust systems to effectively manage and mitigate risks associated with money laundering and terrorism financing. Businesses lacking adequate risk management processes leave themselves susceptible to exploitation by criminals.”