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Fred Matiang’i lays down tough new rules on betting

By SILAS APOLLO
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By FRED MUKINDA
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Interior CS Fred Matiang’i on Friday ordered a fresh crackdown on illegal betting as well as the sale and consumption of illicit alcohol.

He gave the order to county and regional commissioners with instructions to raid premises and confiscate unlicensed gambling machines in areas under their command.

He also warned that foreigners involved in illegal betting would be arrested, charged and deported.

Dr Matiang’i spoke at the Kenya School of Government during a meeting also attended by county Education directors.

At the local level, chiefs and their assistants will lead the war against the sale and consumption of illicit alcohol, in the raft of orders the CS issued just a week after he was confirmed to the Interior docket which he has been overseeing in an acting capacity since the death of his predecessor, Joseph Nkaissery, in July last year.

PROTECT CHILDREN

On gambling, Dr Matiang’i said the government took the decision to protect school children who are the bulk of those targeted by cheap and unregulated betting games.

“We have had instances where students drop out of school due to addictions. Some of these machines are operated by foreigners who are in the country illegally. We will not accept resurgence of illegal gambling machines and illicit brews anywhere in the country. Chiefs and assistance chiefs must take personal responsibility to eradicate these vices,” he said.

Betting is a multi-billion industry currently in the centre of a storm over a 35 per cent income tax recently imposed by the government, a figure the gaming companies have protested as too high.

The clampdown on the illicit alcohols and gaming began in 2016, after a public outcry on their effects on adults and children. The alcohols have been blamed for causing health complications, such as blindness, breakdown of families and decline in economic productivity of addicted individuals.

CONSOLIDATED

Dr Matiang’i said national government functions at the counties would be consolidated to improve efficiency. 

In the new structure, which he said would be rolled out soon, all national government functions at the regional level will be coordinated by county commissioners to improve service delivery and ensure prudent use of resources.

“As leaders, we must be humble enough to know that we must be coordinated for better functioning,” he said.

In the past, the Betting Control and Licensing Board accused counties of allowing installation of illegal gaming machines. With the help of the police, national government officials raided some of the gambling dens in bars in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru, among other towns.

In many of the cases handled by police, youths were found interacting with criminals at gambling dens as they looked for money to engage in betting.