"to risk, wager, put at hazard or risk upon a future contingency," 1520s, perhaps from the notion of "place a gambling wager on a post" or generally "put up something to be won or lost at a wager" (see stake (n.2)), though Weekley suggests "there is a tinge of the burning or baiting metaphor" in this usage. Related: Staked; staking.
also stakeholder, 1708, "one with whom bets are deposited when a wager is made," from stake (n.2) + agent noun from hold (v.). Originally one with whom bets are deposited when a wager is made. By 1965 as "one who has something to gain or lose" (in a business, etc.), "one who has an interest in" (something).
"that which is placed at hazard as a wager, the sum of money or other valuable consideration which is deposited as a pledge or wager to be lost or won according to the issue of a contest or contingency," 1530s, perhaps from stake (v.2), which is attested a few years earlier, but both the noun and verb are of uncertain origin. Perhaps literally "that which is fixed or put up," either from a particular use of stake (n.1) "stake, pole," or from the notion of "a post on which a gambling wager was placed" (but OED points out there is "no evidence of the existence of such a custom"). Weekley suggests "there is a tinge of the burning or baiting metaphor" in this usage.
Meaning "the prize in a contest of strength, skill, speed, etc." is by 1620s; plural stakes, "sum of money to be won in a (horse) race," is recorded by 1690s (compare sweepstakes). Meaning "an interest, something to gain or lose" is by 1580s; hence have a stake in "have an interest in the turn of events, have something to gain or lose" (1784). The phrase at stake "state of being laid or pledged as a wager; state of being at hazard or in peril" is from c. 1600.