Gam­bling a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity, says Bet­ting Board

Writes to all 47 county com­mis­sion­ers, seek­ing as­sis­tance to mo­bilise chiefs and po­lice to erad­i­cate il­le­gal gam­bling ma­chines, which re­quire as lit­tle as Sh10 and Sh20 coins

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Nairobi - IBRAHIM ORUKO @jorukoi

The Bet­ting Con­trol and Li­cens­ing Board says the mush­room­ing of il­le­gal gam­bling ma­chines in the coun­ties is a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity.

It said the ma­chines are a recipe for “gam­bling ad­dic­tion” among the youth, who “waste most of their time and hard-earned money in these gam­bling dens”.

The board seeks the in­ter­ven­tion of po­lice to tame the prac­tice and “save our youth from this il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity”.

In a let­ter to the 47 county com- mis­sion­ers, it seeks as­sis­tance to mo­bilise chiefs and po­lice to erad­i­cate il­le­gal gam­bling ma­chines across the coun­try.

“We would like to call upon your of­fice, in con­junc­tion with the po­lice, to sen­si­tise the pub­lic about these il­le­gal gaming ma­chines and as­sist in mount­ing a ma­jor crack­down, con­fis­cate them and ar­raign the op­er­a­tors and own­ers in court,” says the Septem­ber 19 let­ter.

It is signed by BCLB chair­man An­thony Ki­mani Kung’u and copied to the In­te­rior CS, PS and the PS in charge of Cor­rec­tional and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Ser­vices.

The il­le­gal ma­chines, which are in­stalled in tiny rooms within es- tates and other ur­ban ar­eas, op­er­ate with as lit­tle as Sh10 or Sh20 coins. They tar­get mostly adults with mea­gre earn­ings, the youth and school­child­ren, who mostly steal money from their par­ents be­liev­ing they can gamble the lit­tle and get more.

“We sus­pect the ma­chines are be­ing in­stalled by some Chi­nese in ca­hoots with un­scrupu­lous lo­cal busi­ness­men, es­pe­cially bar own­ers,” Kung’u said.

The board is­sued the or­ders even as it emerged there could be silent in­fight­ing in its ranks on how to fight the il­le­gal gam­bling dens.

For ex­am­ple, act­ing di­rec­tor Charles Wam­bia also wrote to the 47 county com­mis­sion­ers as a fol- low-up to Kung’u’s let­ter.

Wam­bia re­it­er­ated the con­tents of the Septem­ber 19 let­ter and listed three com­pa­nies that he claimed the board ap­proved to op­er­ate gaming ma­chines.

The com­pa­nies are Lucky Bet, Ad­vanced In­no­va­tions and Rambo Re­sources. Wam­bia’s in­struc­tions seem to counter those is­sued by the board.

County chiefs who did not want to be named told the Star the con­fu­sion at the board has given them a dif­fi­cult time tack­ling the prob­lem.

“They seem to be fight­ing and hav­ing in­ter­ests, but we will con­tinue with the op­er­a­tion,” an of­fi­cial in Nairobi, who sought anonymity, said.

/JOHN KA­MAU

Bet­ting ma­chines in a cy­ber at Juja town, Ki­ambu, on April 3

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