The boss of gambling firm Bet365 was paid more than £200m in just one year, which is one of the biggest salaries ever awarded in the UK.
The highest-paid director of Bet365 Group, believed to be founder Denise Coates, earned a salary of £213.4m in the year to March 2022.
She was also entitled to at least half of £100m in dividends, despite a fall in profits.
Bet365 did not immediately respond to the BBC’s request for comment.
But campaign groups such as the High Pay Centre hit out at the announcement, arguing it served as a reminder that “too much [money] is going to too few people” in the UK economy.
Its spokesman Andrew Speke said: “It shows if the government wanted to provide greater support to those struggling and increase the pay of striking public sector workers facing real wage cuts, increasing tax on high incomes and wealth would be one of the most effective ways of funding this.”
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who co-chairs a cross-party parliamentary group examining gambling-related harm, said that losses made by users as prices are rising “are paying for the huge salaries of gambling bosses”.
She called on the government to bring forward its white paper on gambling and update laws that have been in place for decades.
Ms Coates founded the Bet365 website in a portable building in Stoke-on-Trent more than 20 years ago. She is thought to be one of Britain’s richest women and among the best-paid bosses in the world.
After training as an accountant she helped build the group into one of the biggest online gambling companies from her father’s bookmaking business. Her brother is also co-chief executive.
According to the latest company accounts, Ms Coates received a salary of almost £250m salary the year before.
Piling money into efforts to expand internationally saw the Bet365 group’s profits dive.
Bet365 made a profit before tax of £49.8m for the year, taking into account a £26.2m loss from its ownership of Stoke City Football Club, much less than the £469m profit seen in 2021.
The group also saw its wage bill go up significantly, with more than 6,000 employees now on the payroll.
In the year to 29 March 2022, the business turned over £2.9bn in total, an increase of 2% compared with the year before. While sales from sports betting fell, online games revenues jumped by 25% during the year.
Its report also describes how it invested heavily in advertising and IT systems, having previously benefitted from a boom during the pandemic.
Charitable donations of about £100m were made through the Denise Coates Foundation.
The eldest of four children, Ms Coates worked part time for the family firm while still at school, before gaining a first-class degree in econometrics.
She has previously been described as one of the UK’s “most successful women”, spotting the opportunity that online platforms presented.
In a rare interview with a local newspaper, Ms Coates once said: “I was convinced early on that gambling would work well on the internet. It is private, accessible and allows you to present a huge range of betting opportunities to customers.”