As one of the biggest cryptocurrency casinos in the world, Stake.com is not a brand short on recognition. Part of this is thanks to their collaboration with Canadian rapper, Drake, who is well-known for placing outrageous expensive bets on their platform. Still, Stake.com are in no danger of getting complacent as they have stayed keen on signing sponsorship deals, often at a considerable expense.
Who Are They?
It is challenging for new brands entering an already competitive market to thrive and many do fail as a result. Stake.com are something of an exception though as they have gone from strength to strength despite being relative late-comers to the game. Their website itself went live in 2017 and it was largely the creation of Ed Craven and Bijan Tehrani who established the company Easygo Gaming a year prior.
This means that Stake.com, despite being technically operated by a company based in Curacao, is actually an Australian brand. Both the men were living and working in Australia at the time, as were some senior Stake.com employees, from Easygo offices. Easygo themselves provide some of the games you can find on Stake.com so the two enjoy a close relationship. Online casinos are not legal in Australia, but it is legal to operate a casino provided it is not accessible for, or targeted towards, local residents. By being legally registered in Curacao, it also means Stake.com does not fall within the remit of Australia’s money-laundering regulations.
Many Unanswered Questions
As is often the case with online casinos, digging deeper paints something of a murky picture. An investigation report from the Sydney Morning Herald found that Medium Rare N.V., the company that owns and operates Stake.com, does not list its directors or shareholders. Additionally, its registered address appears to be an old warehouse featuring a catering business inside.
As for the two brainchildren behind Stake.com, some details are known of Craven, who often appears under the alias of Edd Miroslav on chat forums. He is the sole shareholder of Easygo while his dad, Jamie – once banned from working in financial services for five years – is a named director. Founding partner Tehrani is much more of a mystery with most information existing as speculation or unconfirmed rumours. Even in 2021, he was not listed within the staffing structure at Stake.com or Easygo despite working for the latter in some capacity.
While Stake.com might not be the most transparent gambling business as a result, there is no denying they have been a huge success. The reason the brand took off was the fact they dealt exclusively in cryptocurrency, supporting a wide range of those available. With crypto enjoying something of a boom period at the time, Stake.com provided many with an incredibly convenient way of gambling. They do now accept fiat currency but typically users select from the list of cryptocurrencies, which at the time of writing stood at 20.
Football Sponsorship Deals
Even though Stake.com’s meteoric rise was thanks to their embrace of cryptocurrency, they decided to enter the UK market, despite regulations only allowing customers to deposit using fiat currencies. They made their UK debut in December 2021 and they had already had a very visible presence in English football prior to this point.
It may seem slightly strange for a company to strike deals in countries in which they do not yet operate but there are two points to consider here. First is that Stake.com’s move to the UK was already well in motion by the time of their first shirt sponsorship deal. They had even launched a holding website, promoting the brand, so interested players could be informed when the website went live. Second is that Premier League football has such a global audience that sponsoring a match-worn shirt gives brands huge exposure, much beyond just the UK.
In addition to the football sponsorship deals mentioned below, Stake.com has penned deals across other sports. Perhaps the biggest example of this is from Formula 1 as they secured a deal with Alfa Romeo, which saw the team change its name to Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake.
Watford FC (July 2021)
After securing promotion back to the Premier League, Watford were on the hunt for a new shirt sponsor. They ended up striking a multi-year deal with Stake.com who themselves were stepping up preparations to enter the UK market. The cost of the deal was not reported but what we do know is that Stake.com paid using cryptocurrency. Which digital currency, or combination of currencies, is unknown but it did make this something of an atypical deal.
It was not too surprising that it was Watford that ended up penning such a landmark deal as previously they had agreed to a deal to have Bitcoin as a sleeve sponsor. Additionally, former sponsor, Sportsbet.io, were also another big cryptocurrency betting firm. Speaking about the club-record deal, Watford CEO and chairman Scott Duxbury said, “We couldn’t be happier to join with a partner who match our ambitious outlook and commitment to innovation in order to achieve success.” Unfortunately for the Hornets, there was no such innovation on the pitch as they finished in 19th place.
Everton FC (June 2022)
Back when Everton had SportPesa on the front of their shirt, the club’s chief executive Denise-Barrett Baxendale admitted that in “an ideal world” the club would not have a betting firm sponsor. They did move to online car retailer Cazoo after this but then announced in the summer of 2022 that Stake.com would be their new sponsor. Although mindful that many of the fans would not be keen on this, the offer was simply too good to turn down from a commercial perspective.
Having posted huge losses over the previous three years, every million counted for the Toffees and this multi-year deal was worth £10m a season. Coming in at this price, it was the biggest sponsorship deal in the Merseyside club’s history, a little more than the £9.6m-a-year deal with SportPesa. As other clubs have commented on, non-betting firms simply struggle to compete financially when it comes to sponsorship offers.
Upon announcing the deal, Barrett-Baxendale spoke very highly of the company but it has not been the smoothest of relationships. For starters, in August 2020 Everton had to tell Stake.com to stop using its imagery on an offer that offered a $10 free bet for players that wagered $5,000 in the space of seven days. The same article also referenced the fact that nearly 40,000 Evertonians had signed a petition calling on the club to ditch its ties with the betting firm.
To create some extra distance between sponsor and club, one Guardian reporter, Rob Davies, was told they had no affiliate relationship with Stake.com. At the time, many clubs with gambling sponsors did have such a relationship, meaning they enjoyed a share of customer losses.
Sheffield Wednesday/Gillingham/Cardiff City (January 2023)
In a highly unusual announcement, it was revealed that Stake.com would feature as the sleeve sponsor for Sheffield Wednesday, Gillingham and Cardiff City for each of their respective FA Cup ties. We are used to sponsorship deals lasting years, or at the very least months, but on this occasion, it was simply a one-game deal. The reason for these three teams in particular was that they were all taking part in matches selected for live TV coverage, meaning a sizeable audience would be tuning in. Stake.com had picked the lower league side in each clash too, presumably because they demanded a lower fee.
It is often hard to measure the effectiveness of sponsorship deals but it is hard to think Stake.com executives would have been upset with the way the cup matches played out. Cardiff held Leeds to an enthralling draw and the sleeve sponsor remained during the replay at Elland Road. Sheffield Wednesday on the other hand upset the odds to beat Premier League opponents Newcastle United. Stake did not, however, follow the Owls into the next round as their sleeve sponsorship deals only covered the third round matches.