Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has defended the government’s effort to regulate gambling in the country saying it’s bearing fruits.
Speaking on Monday during a meeting with Muslim clerics at Jamia Mosque, the tough-talking CS noted that the government was not going to backtrack on its move to protect the young generation from the addictive activity.
“Data shows since we started a crackdown on gambling, change has been seen. It has not been a bed of roses but I am resolute in stopping it, ” said Matiang’i.
He added, “No country has been built by gambling. This must be fought by every Kenyan.”
The CS was flanked by the National Assembly Majority Aden Duale who stated that the government should completely ban gambling saying it is a “threat to national security”.
Matiang’i’s declaration comes just days after the two leading betting firms in the country, SportPesa and Betin, announced that they are halting operations in the country over strained relationship with the government.
Last week, SportPesa sent home at least 400 employees saying their services were no longer tenable following harsh regulations by the government.
Ronald Karuri, SportPesa CEO, had declared that the firm won’t resume its services until the government scraps the 20% exercise tax imposed on all stakes.
The firm further argued that the imposed tax could have dire consequences on betting firms which are tax compliant.
“Sportpesa is disappointed with the decision by the Kenyan legislature to impose a 20% excise tax on all betting stakes. The tax is based on a fundamental misunderstanding by the Rotich led treasury of how revenue generation works in the bookmaker industry.
Until such time that adequate taxation and non-hostile regulatory environment is returned, the SportPesa brand will halt operations in Kenya,” the firm said in a statement.
Earlier, Betin had also announced that the prolonged tax standoff with the government had informed the decision by the management to issue a notice of termination to all its employees.
“…As a result of the deterioration of the profitability, the management has had to rethink its operations model and proceed with the exercise of termination on account of redundancy,” a memo addressed to all staff read in part.
The two firms are among over 27 gambling companies that didn’t have their licence renewed by the Betting and Betting Control And Licencing Board (BCLB) over nontax compliance.
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i in April gave all firms three months up to July 1 to seek fresh renewal of licenses upon proving tax compliance.