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Stake co-founder Ed Craven has denied the online casino giant self-funded the gambling activity of its biggest streamers and influencers.

The crypto disruptor – which counts Canadian rapper Drake as an A-list brand ambassador – faced mounting accusations before being banned from Twitch that it lined the pockets of its collaborators as a viral marketing strategy to encourage big stakes and even bigger wins.

Craven, who has since gone on to launch fast-growing Twitch rival Kick, rejected those accusations in a live video interview with YouTube channel Gamer Update on 24 June.

A bad example

“There was a lot of speculation around the money side and I completely understand that because there was incredible amounts being bet at any given moment,” said Craven.

For example, Drake joined Stake in December 2021 under the alias DeepPockets6. He is understood to have gambled more than £800m in cryptocurrency in just two months.

The artist bet a whopping £1.67m on Israel Adesanya to beat Alex Pereira in a UFC 281 title fight and lost. He also bet £837k on Argentina to win the World Cup but lost on a technicality after Lionel Messi’s side triumphed after normal time and on penalties.

“That is something that personally, I don’t believe was good for anybody,” said Craven in response to the amount of money tabled by Stake’s high-profile partners.

“I don’t condone that at all. I think that was something which attracted unneeded attention,” he added.

Authenticity is key

Despite the outrageous sums of money being wagered, Craven has maintained that Drake and his fellow Stake ambassadors were betting out of their own wallets.

“In terms of the legitimacy and the authenticity of the gambling, that is something that of course we were very, very serious about,” he said.

“This comes back to our marketing strategy. If you have an authentic use of the product, then that is what leads to it being a successful campaign.

“Using gambling as an example, having real money is the most important aspect of having an authentic experience.

“To address the speculation, I’m not going to confirm that – I will harshly deny the fact that those rumours are true.

“We wanted to keep everything extremely above board in all areas and there have been no revelations around that otherwise. I think it has always been speculation,” he added.

Stake was one of four high-profile casino operators banned from Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch in 2022.

“In terms of the legitimacy and authenticity of the gambling, that is something that we were very, very serious about.”
Stake co-founder Ed Craven

At the time, Twitch said it would prohibit streams and the sharing of links or referral codes to gambling sites and games that are not licensed in the US or other jurisdictions that provide “sufficient” consumer protection.

Twitch CEO Dan Clancy has since gone on record to confirm that stance, suggesting the company has a problem with sites that are “unregulated”.

Stake is licensed for online gambling by Curaçao, which is currently in the process of bringing its own gambling legislation closer in line with international standards.

While answering community-posed questions on the live stream, Craven took issue with the “unregulated” definition.

“There was controversy that came out of the gambling side of things, and there still is. There is still gambling on Twitch, there’s gambling on Kick, and there’s gambling on YouTube,” he said.

“There’s gambling on all social media platforms and I think people still question a lot of what goes on.

“I do think there are some very unfair comments, though, in regard to what is defined as acceptable versus unacceptable. I’ve heard some ideas around whether it’s regulated or unregulated,” he added.

M&A on the cards

Craven then revealed that Stake could be set to enter the locally licensed online gambling space by completing a “large” acquisition for an undisclosed company in the regulated US market.

The move, he said, would give Twitch bosses a major decision to make over whether to reintegrate Stake to the platform based on their own gambling terms and conditions.

“We look forward to hopefully being able to work back on Twitch under their guidelines,” said Craven.

“But I’m not sure whether they’re going to follow through with this whole concept of regulated versus unregulated once we meet their regulations.”

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