High stakes: the cryptocurrency casino king who bought the most expensive house in Victoria

Edward Craven, the new owner of the most expensive house in Victoria, is playing an online slot machine game on his cryptocurrency casino Stake.com.

He loves the slots, but is a little sceptical that, mathematically speaking, there’s no such thing as a lucky spin. “Me personally, I dunno,” he told a live stream last week.

“I get this funny feeling that my luck is due.”

Only days later, Craven, 27, was reported to have spent $80,000,088 – a supposedly lucky number – on a property in Toorak, an affluent suburb in Melbourne’s inner east.

The St Georges Road mansion is one of the most valuable properties ever sold in Australia. But Craven is less well-known than other owners of the country’s top houses, such as Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, James Packer or Chau Chak Wing.

Craven could not be reached for comment, but he is reportedly planning on demolishing the existing property and building a new one.

The Sydney-born entrepreneur already owns a $38.5m property about 800 metres away in Orrong Road, and records show that in the past four years he has bought other multimillion dollar properties in Southbank and Mount Macedon.

Stake.com, which he co-founded in 2017, is based in Melbourne, but cannot accept bets from Australian customers.

It provides a dizzying array of betting options to gamblers around the world, and has reportedly processed tens of billions of dollars worth of bets.

Craven’s father is James Ashley Craven, who was jailed and bankrupted only years before his son was born because of his involvement in the collapse of companies known as the Spedley group.

“I have a boarding school background and I have no doubt that equipped me very well to handle life in prison,” Jamie Craven told the AFR in 1999, adding that the fallout from the collapse also cost him his marriage.

At the time of that story, Craven, who goes by Ed or Eddie, had not yet turned two.

Now, corporate records show Edward and his father have been involved in a number of the companies that underpin the son’s business and property empire, including one of his first gaming companies. There are no restrictions on Jamie Craven being a company director.

Unlike many of his generation, Craven does not appear to have a prominent social media presence.

While he features in posts made by Easygo Gaming, another business he co-founded, about their office “Parma Fridays”, his own forays are mostly limited to live streams and posts purportedly made by him on Medium.

In one 2 July post, he writes that playing video games like Runescape during high school that included in-game purchases had led to his business success.

He wrote that he “largely educated myself” about “in-game currency” and that “online gaming made me aware of the growing use of in-game digital currency and ‘loot boxes’ which essentially constitutes gambling in-game”.

“This is what drew my attention to the potential of cryptocurrency in the gaming realm and which has led to my subsequent success in this space.”

The mansion in St Georges Road, Toorak, Craven bought for more than $80m. Photograph: CoreLogic

Craven also posts regularly about Stake.com partnering with celebrities such as the musician Drake and former Manchester City footballer Sergio Agüero, and about why crypto enthusiasts, who he dubs generation C, are “here to stay”.

Craven appears to have started his Medium account after an Age investigation into Stake.com.

That investigation found that although Stake.com was operated by a company set up in the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curacao, meaning it was not subject to Australia’s anti-money laundering laws, it had strong ties to Australia.

Despite online casinos being banned, it can legally operate in Australia, as long as it does not service Australian customers or advertise in Australia.

In a recent live stream in which Craven raffled off $50,000 to Stake.com users, Craven told users that the casino had recently removed a series of “dodgy games” from the site as they’d been used in “frauds recently” and were from a “very untrustworthy provider”.

“We highly recommend you avoid [these] games at all costs,” he said on the streaming platform dlive, where he has more than 16,000 followers.

During the rest of the two-hour live stream, Craven sits behind a microphone in a black T-shirt, interacting with users, as he plays a variety of games on the site to win them money.

Some of them, like Monopoly Big Baller, he says he has never played before, and speculates about what they’d be like playing with virtual reality.

Craven shares his screen to show him using a random number generator to select a virtual room that another Stake.com staffer will visit to find users who will play for the jackpot.

The mood is blokey and casual, with Craven appearing genuinely pleased to hear from people who enjoy the casino, although he playfully questions one user about whether they’re a paid actor when they’re particularly gushing.

There’s a recurring joke about how much Craven likes the phrase “let it ride”.

“All right guys, basically the trick is you just have to say ‘let it ride’,” he says at one point.

“That increases your chance of winning.”

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