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