The Story Of Bet365's Staggering Rise To The Top Of The Table

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March 2001 was the year, just 12 months after the dotcom bubble popped, was born and began accepting bets all over the internet. Denise Coates had bought the domain off eBay for a staggering price of $25,000 and started building the site with a £15m loan. Many years later, the gamble seems to have paid off as the site established from a portable cabin in a Stroke-on-Trent car park grew to become one of the leading bookies in the world.

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The geniuses behind the growth of the online start-up were Denise Coates, a first-class honors degree holder in econometrics, and her kid brother, John.

Today, bet365 is a global powerhouse and has made its founders multi-billionaires along the way.

“I was convinced early on that gambling would work on the internet,” Denise Coates once told the local newspaper in a rare interview. Outside investment was hard to come by, though. “At the time, the dotcom bubble had burst and a loss-making internet company wasn’t looking the best investment,” she revealed.

William Hill, Ladbrokes, and Coral, UK’s top three established bookies, all released sports betting sites of their own prior to bet365’s launch in March 2001. As a matter of fact, William Hill’s online sportsbook joined the industry in 1998, three years before bet365 launched. Yet, bet365 left the competition in the dust and moved past these household names to become a true global leader in the world of digital sports betting.

According to Mark Blandford, “You don’t have to be first to be the best”.  Mark Blandford, who, much like the Coates’, owned a chain of betting shops before he launched online bookmaker Sportingbet in 1998. “There’s nothing wrong in looking at the market and the competition and being able to spot opportunities to improve on what’s in the market. I think that’s exactly what Denise did.”

Bet365 looked towards developing in-house rather than leaving things to third parties. This includes an affiliate program that seemed to bring it some of its good fortunes. Matthew Glazier served as the head of marketing when he joined bet365 in 2004 and he saw to the success of the program.

“They were an up-and-coming bookmaker at the time,” Glazier says. “John Coates himself said when I first spoke to him that they regarded themselves as being in the second tier of bookmakers at that time, which sounds incredible to say now but that was the case.”

With the spontaneous growth of the online bookmarking site, Denise Coates made the decision to sell off the family betting shops for £40m. The new funds were instrumental to a change in the company’s history as it helped it pay off its RBS loan while part of it was used in developing technology that would boost its online gambling offers. At the time, bet365 went multi-lingual and hired staff of different languages to handle its overseas customers.

Bet365 notably became the first operator to offer partial cash-out. By 2013, about half of bet365’s customers were able to access the site and its services on smartphones and tablets.

It continued to focus on product and customer experience – offering fast loading pages and easy navigation on both desktop and mobile sites to boost user experience.

As it grew, so did its presence in various markets. The operator currently holds 15 licenses globally. Bet365 stands out due to its ability to produce local products to appeal to gamblers in any market it steps into.

This and many more reasons are why bet365 continues to soar where many other operators would only dream of. Today, it records thousands of Euros in wagers being made every second with a workforce of over 4,500 employees.

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