When a company active in the iGaming industry reaches a certain size, usually it decides to go public and be listed on a major stock exchange. The benefits of such a move are multiple. First of all, the company can raise cash that it can use to fund its current operations or its expansion, spend it on research and development, or pay off outstanding debts. Second, going public raises the awareness of a company, and even has the potential to increase its market share. But going public also has its disadvantages, which sometimes keeps companies from taking this step. When it comes to iGaming, I have two companies in mind that refrained from such moves: Malta-based Digimedia, owner of the royal vegas online casino and several other similar operations that are quite popular, and one of Europe’s largest gaming companies (and one of the largest one in the UK), Bet365. Digimedia does not reveal a great deal about itself, but Bet365 is a different matter – it has over 10 million users, it is active in many arms of the industry, and it’s not just a private company, but a family owned one: it is owned by the Coates family from Stoke on Trent. So, why doesn’t it go public?
Bet365 has started small: Denise Coates, daughter of the Stoke on Trent businessman (and owner of the Premier League team Stoke City FC) Peter Coates, has started to develop her new online gaming business out of a portable office in a parking lot. Founding the business through bank loans (later paid back after the sale of the family’s chain of betting shops), Denise has managed to put it on its feet in about a year. From then on, the growth of the company was uninterrupted: it has now grown into one of the largest online-only gaming company in the UK and Europe, with Denise Coates being one of the richest and most influential women in the country. But where all its major competitors have listed their shares on stock exchanges, Bet365 is still private and family owned.
When UK betting company Betfair went public in 2010, eGaming Reviews Magazine asked Denise Coates about the possibility of floating Bet365 as well. Her answer was that her company will never float like Betfair did. “We don’t want to think every day, ‘what does the City think of this’ or ‘I have to do things’, because that’s what the City would like you to do or the City think well or badly of you if you do this or that,” she said. “We don’t want the pressure; we just want to get on with running our business. We don’t need it”, she told eGR Magazine back then.
“We’re constantly looking to invest in the products we have, and make sure we have scalability to deal with any legislative changes, and to be bigger and better. You can’t standstill in anything, because everybody else is looking to move on. I’ll still be here in 10 years,” she added.