The Ministry of Interior through CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i has actualized its threat to shape the betting industry in Kenya by ensuring “responsible betting” and shield Kenyan youth from becoming addicts.
In April, Dr. Matiang’i threatened that the operating permits of most gambling companies will not be renewed unless they provided a valid tax compliance certificate.
As July kicked in, the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) cracked the whip and canceled operating permits for 19 gambling firms.
The Kenyan betting industry is worth 200 billion shillings but the owners have been blamed for not remitting taxes to the Kenya Revenue Authority as required by law.
BCLB has deferred the renewal of the licenses of other eight betting firms and 13 casinos as well as six lotteries to a later date giving them a lifeline to continue operating.
The government has kicked off a ‘security vetting processes on the operations and the directors of the firms with the renewal of the license depending on the outcome of the vetting.
“The board, in collaboration with government agencies, will be conducting sustained vetting of all licensees in the gaming industry and shall not hesitate to debar non-compliant operators in any category,” said BCLB in a statement.
The government says 76 percent of Kenyan youth are addicted to gambling with little chances of winning leading to depression among Kenyans. Kenya was ranked 6th in Africa as the most depressed country and the government attributes this gambling.
More than 500,000 Kenyans have been blacklisted on CRB, 80 percent of them being youth and the government says it is because young people are borrowing cash from digital platforms to gamble.
If the government will keep its word of not renewing the licenses for the 19 betting firms, job losses are looming given that these companies have employees and agents across the country.