Japanese-led Kibow gets UK regulator’s approval for mobile sports betting



See the original story in Japanese.

Kibow, a Singapore-incorporated startup with headquarters in Tokyo developing a mobile sports betting app, announced this week that they have acquired a betting license from the British government’s Gambling Commission. The company had previously acquired a betting license in the Philippines, but from here on out in acquiring a license from the UK (considered the home of betting) they will be able to dive headfirst into preparations for their service launch.

The exhilarated Kibow CEO Fumitada Naoe said,

Piggybacking off of Nike (NYSE:NKE), we want to see ourselves in such a position within 10 years of inception.

In reference to the acquisition of a betting license in the UK he remarked, unable to hide his joy, “It doesn’t get much better for us. In terms of soccer, it’s like we were granted access to the Premier League.” In order to eliminate anti-social elements, through certification by the Gambling Commission based on a thorough check of the integrity of the company, Kibow is now able to begin their overseas operations, starting with the UK, by triumphantly entering into the fantasy sports and sports betting worlds.

Kibow CEO Fumitada Naoe

The review of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics boat and canoe venue has been in the news recently being hailed a controversy, beginning with problems emerging from behind the scenes, and ending in the reality that the proposed venue is too costly. In the world of professional sports, the media attracts the attention of sports viewers and the general public, and when worldwide competitions are held money is collected through broadcasted rights, sponsorship fees, and ticket sales. It is then made into a fund in the form of guarantee and prize money, finally being returned to players and athletes. So to speak, it is like a sports ecosystem. However, there are drawbacks to this system. Only those involved in major sports events are rewarded, and the current situation stands that even Olympic gold medalists are not guaranteed support after retirement.

Kibow is proposing, through mobile sports betting, they can form a now sports business ecosystem by changing the way money flows from the general public to players and athletes and giving those involved in minor sports and extreme sports a chance in the spotlight. The Nippon Foundation, one of the key role players in social impact investments in Japan, held the country’s largest ever Social Innovation event. Given that they use a portion of proceeds raised from boat racing throughout Japan to finance social entrepreneurs, it may be easy for our readers to imagine the relationship between sport betting, sport business building, and developing athletes. In the future, Kibow plans to provide betting opportunities for Japan’s unique minor sports and extreme sports and, starting in the UK, hopes to attract foreign betting participants.

In this same field, in 2013 Softbank acquired 23% of shares from the UK’s leading online bookmaker Betfair for 355 million pounds (about $540 million at the exchange rate then). In the US earlier this year sports betting startups DraftKing and FanDuel launched their services.

Kibow does not only function as a bookmaker, but while advocating for a position as a sport brand and a lifestyle brand, they are aiming to begin their mobile sports betting service in the UK domestic market by February of next year. The company raised around 100 million yen (nearly $840,000 at the exchange rate then) in funds from Cyber Agent Ventures and individual investors in April of 2015.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda

A concept image for Kibow’s mobile betting app
Image credit: Kibow