Last week, The Sunday Times released its series of ‘Rich Lists’ and once again gambling was seen as a great way to create a million, or ten, with numerous gambling firms and individuals making the grade. How accurate these figures actually are is open for debate, but it’s still an indicator of who the most influential moneymen, and women, are in the UK Gambling industry as it stands today.
The Top Ten
- Peter, Denise and John Coates: Bet 365 – £925m
- Fred and Peter Done: Betfred – £850m
- Ruth Parasol and Russ DeLeon: PartyGaming – £667m
- Michael Tabor: Arthur Prince – £550m
- Victor Bhargava: PartyGaming – £228m
- Victor Chandler: BetVictor – £160m
- Richard Koch: Betfair – £140m
- Noel Hayden: Jackpotjoy.com – £120m
- Jimmy and Simon Thomas: – £110m
- Ed Wray Betfair: – £101m
Peter, Denise and John Coates: Bet 365 – £925m
The owners of the Stoke-based betting outfit Bet365 retain their place at the top, after The Times valued the privately held betting firm at around £800m, while the Coates family – father Peter, daughter Denise and son John – who own and operate Bet365, are collectively worth £925m once you throw in their other holdings. Just three years ago, the family fortune was estimated at £500m, leading the Times to suggest the Coates were well on their way to become the country’s first betting billionaires.
Fred and Peter Done: Betfred – £850m
Second on the list of the UK’s well-off wagering outfits were the Done brothers, Fred and Peter, the brains behind Betfred. The Times estimates their combined fortune at £850m.
The business has grown from a solitary shop back in 1967, to become the world’s largest independent bookmaker with more than 1,350 shops. Despite earning huge sums of cash, the Done brothers are notorious for getting it wrong when it comes to Man Utd and the Premier League title. In 1998 and 2012, Betfred paid out early for everyone who had backed United to win the title only for both Arsenal and Man City to throw £2 million worth of egg onto their faces.
Ruth Parasol and Russ DeLeon: PartyGaming – £667m
The California pairing of Ruth Parasol and Russ DeLeon continue to be counted as one entity despite separating in 2010. The former couple, who together have three children, both live in Gibraltar – the home of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment – where the pair made most of their fortune.
The pair joined PartyGaming in 2001 and together helped turn the business from a break-even prospect to a gambling behemoth in just four years. In 2005, the pair made £500m from PartyGaming shares when the company floated in the London Stock Exchange.
The pair currently hold a £167m stake in the newly formed Bwin.Party Digital.
Michael Tabor: Arthur Prince – £550m
71-year old Michael Tabor is a London-based gambling aficionado who is reportedly worth £550m. Tabor’s rags to riches tale began when he bought two bankrupt betting shops for £30,000 back in the late 60s. Before long Tabor had purchased a few more – 114 to be exact – and the chain known as Arthur Prince was later sold to Coral for close to £30m.
Vikrant Bhargava: PartyGaming – £228m
Just like Ruth Parasol and Russ DeLeon, Vikrant Bhargava is another person who benefited from the golden years of PartyGaming between 2000 − 2005. Bhargava was primarily responsible for turning PartyPoker into the world’s largest poker site prior to the introduction of the UIGEA.
Victor Chandler: BetVictor – £160m
Victor Chandler, 62, is the man behind BetVictor, and whom many believe is one of the pioneers of online casino and poker gambling. In 1996, Chandler made his way to Gibraltar; obtained a betting license and is now one of the largest employers on that island. It’s believed that his 45% in his own company is worth £135m.
Richard Koch: Betfair – £140m
Richard Koch, 62, is currently in the news as a partner to CVC Capital in their attempts to take over the reigns of the struggling betting exchange Betfair. Koch, a former Betfair Director, is an astute businessman, author and investor. His highly acclaimed ’80/20-Principle’ book has earned him worldwide appeal. Koch has also earned millions by investing in the likes of Filofax and the restaurant chain Belgo’s.
Noel Hayden: Jackpotjoy.com – £120m
Noel Hayden, 42, is the co-founder of the Gamesys Group, the success story behind the soft-gaming brand Jackpotjoy. Jackpotjoy is one of the most successful online bingo operators, and the Gamesys Group also runs the online bingo face of The Sun newspaper. Hayden’s 30.1% stake in Gamesys is thought to be worth £105m.
Jimmy and Simon Thomas: – £110m
The only father and son combo to make it onto the top 10 is Jimmy and Simon Thomas. The pair were recently in the news after they purchased The Hippodrome in Leicester Square and turned it into a casino. Their most recent high profile deal saw them shake hands with PokerStars, who now run the poker room at the iconic venue.
Both Jimmy and Simon have made their fortune ostensibly through buying and selling live bingo halls.
Ed Wray: Betfair: – £101m
Ed Wray, 45, made his millions after he co-founded Betfair with Andrew Black in 2000. Both Wray and Black were seen as revolutionaries when they launched the betting exchanges that allowed punters to bet against each other. The company was seen as such a threat that most of the top bookmakers tried to get Betfair shut down.
Betfair floated on the Stock Exchange in 2010 with the company valued at £1.4bn. That estimation has since dropped to £880m, but Wray still has more than enough to keep making his mortgage payments.