The government has been urged to control online betting which has been associated with increased cases of mental illnesses in Mt Kenya region.
Mr James Mwangi, the chairman of Civic Renewal Party (CRP), a political party associated with Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, said that many young people have been lured into the betting by peers, media companies and the internet, and a number have suffered depression after failing to win.
Mr Mwangi said some youth bet all their salaries while others borrow from their friends hoping to repay their debts after winning, only for them to lose all the money in betting.
Mr Mwangi spoke a week after a psychiatric nurse at Murang’a County Referral Hospital, Angela Muthoni, raised the alarm over increased cases of mental illnesses in Mt Kenya region.
She told the Nation that the psychiatric unit at the hospital has been receiving over 300 patients with mental illnesses, adding that most of them are students in secondary schools and colleges. Most of them are from Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Kiambu counties, she added.
Mr Mwangi, said who likened betting to the killer cancer disease, said it is the high time that government protected the youth from betting.
"Most youth are victims of online gambling. The government has to protect the youth from gambling companies because betting has caused havoc on public health in central Kenya due to mental illnesses," he said.
He added that it is unfortunate that government has no data to show who is betting, where and when, saying regulations are needed to control the sector.
He said gaming is also rife amongst underage children, most of whom are now addicted.