Par­ents, tu­tors protest against bet­ting ma­nia

Ward ad­min­is­tra­tors in Na­manga say they have no pow­ers to li­cence the equip­ment

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Rift Valley - KURGAT MARINDANY @Kmarin­dany

Par­ents and teach­ers in Na­manga and Kiten­gela towns are up in arms over the rising num­ber of Chi­nese bet­ting money ma­chines that have taken a toll on their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion.

Most of the ma­chines are in bar out­lets. They said their chil­dren steal money for bet­ting. They also ac­cused bar own­ers and po­lice of al­low­ing chil­dren in bars.

The Star yes­ter­day counted 120 Chi­nese bet­ting money ma­chines on the Kenyan side of the Na­manga bor­der town and at least 100 on the Tan­za­nian side.

In Kiten­gela alone, there were 300 ma­chines and most of them are lo­cated in back­street bars.

The county gov­ern­ment has no con­trol over the li­cenc­ing of the bet­ting com­pa­nies. Ward ad­min­is­tra­tor in Na­manga Julius Rikanka said they have no pow­ers to li­cence the equip­ment. It is only the Na­tional Bet­ting Con­trol and Li­cens­ing Board that is man­dated to li­cence. Rikanka said there is a dis­con­nect be­tween the na­tional and the county gov­ern­ments which cre­ates such loop­holes.

He said he has no of­fi­cial record of the to­tal num­ber of such ma­chines in Na­manga, whether legal or il­le­gal.

Kiten­gela ward ad­min­is­tra­tor Moses Ka­ma­lik said the county has no reg­u­la­tions on bet­ting, and this will re­main so until the assem­bly leg­is­lates on the is­sue. Ka­ma­lik also said he is un­aware about the num­ber of bet­ting ma­chines in his ju­ris­dic­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to re­li­able sources from the na­tional gov­ern­ment, the small bet­ting ma­chines are sup­posed to attarct a li­cense fee of Sh7,000. The big­ger ones are charged Sh21,000 per year. Bar own­ers in Na­manga and Kiten­gela said po­lice of­fi­cers on pa­trol only ar­rest those who en­gage in gam­bling and bet­ting but they are not pros­e­cuted be­cause their ma­chines are le­gally there.

They claimed one such small ma­chine fetchs up to Sh15,000 per day. They are paid a com­mis­sion by the Chi­nese busi­ness­men based on what the ma­chines col­lect.

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