Bet365 Has £1.1 billion Cash In Hand But Little Appetite For Acquisitions
Legal Sports Report

Bet365’s Slowing Growth Is Still The Envy Of The Sports Betting Industry

Bet365 sports betting
Bet365 has cemented its position as the world’s largest real money online gambling company by reporting pre-tax profits (paywall) of £448 million ($581.6 million) for financial year 2015/2016.

Bet365 remains a private company, so is not subject to the stress of facing investors with its results every quarter. It reports results in a limited form only once a year.

Revenues up by 10 percent

Overall revenues rose by 5 percent to £1.65 billion ($2.1 billion), but profits rose by 10 percent. The company reported taking £36.9 billion ($47.9 billion) in total bets.

Last year Bet365 reported pre-tax profits up by 92 percent after an increase of 43 percent in its sports betting customers.

This year’s increase is much smaller, but the previous figures included the benefit of the FIFA 2014 World Cup soccer championship, which saw almost all sports betting operators report sterling revenues. Despite this, Bet365 still managed to increase sports betting revenue by 6 percent.

In-play betting remained the dominant source of revenues at 72 percent, down three percent compared to last year.

Bet365 has grown to dominate the sports betting market

The company has grown from a tiny base in 2000 to currently employ 3,404 staff, up from 3,179 in 2015. Its player base has also grown to number 23.1 million, with active customers up 11 percent year on year.

A look at sports betting figures from the regulated Italian market highlights just how big a lead Bet365 has over other operators. The lead may be smaller in other countries, but Bet365’s position is an enviable one in all of its markets.

August figures reported by Italian news site Agimeg show monthly player deposits (in millions of Euros) for the top 12 sports betting operators:

Bet365 is a true family company

The company’s growth has been driven by CEO Denise Coates, who owns 50.1 percent of the company. Her brother John and father Peter own the rest of the company.

Unlike many other operators who retain their private company status to avoid regulation, Bet365 has fully accepted the changed environment for legal sports betting.

Even when the UK introduced its new gambling laws in 2005, Bet365 remained headquartered in the UK, ignoring the tax advantage that saw all of its competitors relocate overseas.

Acquisitions are unlikely, but Amaya must be tempting

Bet365 has £1.1 billion cash in hand to use for any acquisitions it might be in the mood to undertake, but last year the Financial Times reported a source saying that he doubted whether Bet365 would want to grow by acquisition.

The reason the company remains private looks more to do with the fact that Denise Coates likes it that way and enjoys having unfettered control to run things — confidence that has been borne out by Bet365’s remarkable performance over the past 10 years.

Denise Coates’ personal wealth is now estimated at around $4 billion, so she has no need to consider merger or acquisition possibilities.

The availability of Amaya for sale could be the one option that might tempt her.

Bet365’s poker business operates as a skin on the iPoker network, but the wealth of the company has largely come from its proprietary sports betting platform. The possibility of owning the world’s largest proprietary online poker platform must surely be tempting.

On the other side of the decision tree is the desire not to be in hock to a bunch of investment banks for the extra funds Bet365 would have to borrow to make a bid attractive.

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Joss Wood
- Joss Wood, a former editor of Poker Industry Pro, has long focussed on regulated online gambling issues and in particular the international market. For LegalSportsReport.com, Joss turns his attention primarily to regulated sports betting markets. With a degree in English from the University of Birmingham as well as a master’s degree in organisational development from the University of Manchester, Joss’s career has taken him from the British Army into the world of business and finance. For seven years he played poker professionally.