Australia's newest billionaire, Laurence Escalante

Australia’s latest billionaire flipped burgers at Hungry Jacks as a teenager before transforming his love of video games into a successful tech business.

Virtual Gaming Worlds founder Laurence Escalante has joined The List – Australia’s Richest 250 for the first time, worth an eye-watering $2.15billion. 

The coronavirus pandemic was particularly triumphant for the 39-year-old as those in lockdown had more time to play games online, reported. 

Mr Escalante’s headquarters are in Perth but VGW’s revenue comes from outside Australia. 

The social gaming business, which was founded by Mr Escalante in 2010, made more than a $200million profit last year.

Virtual Gaming Worlds founder Laurence Escalante has joined The List - Australia's Richest 250 for the first time, worth an eye-watering $2.15billion

Virtual Gaming Worlds founder Laurence Escalante has joined The List - Australia's Richest 250 for the first time, worth an eye-watering $2.15billion

Virtual Gaming Worlds founder Laurence Escalante has joined The List – Australia’s Richest 250 for the first time, worth an eye-watering $2.15billion 

‘The Australian technology sector is changing the world,’ Mr Escalante said interview in The List, to be published on Saturday.

Mr Escalante was paid $5.65 an hour for his first job at Hungry Jacks, before moving on to work at The Reject Shop while studying at Sydney’s Macquarie University. 

The billionaire is also passionate about fast cars and invested in car modification business, Beyond Custom as well as training and coaching business, Arise Racing.

The VGW website reads: ‘VGW are the pioneers of Social Sweepstake Gaming.’

‘VGW is disrupting both the Online Social Casino and Poker markets. 

‘Our innovative sweepstakes technology is the subject of patent pending applications around the world.’

In December last year, Mr Escalante upgraded from a bungalow to a $7.5million apartment on South Perth Esplanade.

The father-of-four’s new whole floor luxury apartment has a balcony with sweeping view of Perth’s Swan River and the city skyline. 

The coronavirus pandemic was particularly triumphant for the 39-year-old as those in lockdown had more time to play games online (pictured)

The coronavirus pandemic was particularly triumphant for the 39-year-old as those in lockdown had more time to play games online (pictured)

The coronavirus pandemic was particularly triumphant for the 39-year-old as those in lockdown had more time to play games online (pictured) 

There are four bedrooms with built-in wardrobes, three bathrooms, four separate toilets and three car parking spaces.

Meanwhile, the apartment complex is four storeys with one apartment on each floor, a shared roof deck, a pool, BBQ area and gym.

The $7.5million apartment is an upgrade from Mr Escalante’s old home – a bungalow in Como in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, which he bought for $870,000 in 2016.

Online gambling is illegal in the US except for the states of Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia – meaning it is still illegal in 45 states.

Mr Escalante was paid $5.65 an hour for his first job at Hungry Jacks, before moving on to work at The Reject Shop while studying at Sydney's Macquarie University

Mr Escalante was paid $5.65 an hour for his first job at Hungry Jacks, before moving on to work at The Reject Shop while studying at Sydney's Macquarie University

Mr Escalante was paid $5.65 an hour for his first job at Hungry Jacks, before moving on to work at The Reject Shop while studying at Sydney’s Macquarie University

Mr Escalante worked with US sweepstakes and gaming lawyers to develop VGW from a Spacecubed co-working desk on St Georges Terrace in Perth in 2010.

He then launched Chumba Casino in 2012, which uses a loophole in US anti-gambling law to deem it a sweepstakes rather than an online casino.

Chumba Casino is accessible through Facebook, where players buy virtual ‘Gold Coins’ that come with free ‘Sweep Coins’ that can be used to play games.

Since players do not directly buy the Sweep Coins, Chumba Casino is not considered an online casino but rather a Sweepstakes, which is legal in all 50 states.

Players use their sweepstakes credits to play games, mainly slot machines, and exchange their virtual currency winnings for US dollars.

A $7.5million apartment on the exclusive South Perth Esplanade (pictured), which was bought by Virtual Gaming Worlds founder Laurence Escalante in December

A $7.5million apartment on the exclusive South Perth Esplanade (pictured), which was bought by Virtual Gaming Worlds founder Laurence Escalante in December

A $7.5million apartment on the exclusive South Perth Esplanade (pictured), which was bought by Virtual Gaming Worlds founder Laurence Escalante in December

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