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We’re willing to abide by set rules, betting agents now say

Tuesday July 16 2019

Betting agents who met in Embakasi

Some of the betting agents who met in Embakasi, Nairobi on July 15, 2019. They called on the Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to meet with stakeholders in the industry before paralysing operations of betting companies. PHOTO | MAGDALENE WANJA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MAGDALENE WANJA
By MAGDALENE WANJA
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Agents operating under various betting companies have accused the government of maintaining a hard-line stance and refusing to engage them in the stalemate surrounding the gambling industry.

The agent, who are mainly youth, on Monday said the latest stand by the government on the betting sector is ill-informed.

This comes two days after the suspension of pay bill numbers and SMS short codes for the betting companies by the government.

MEET MATIANG'I

Hundreds of agents who spoke in Embakasi called on the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to hold a meeting with the stakeholders before paralysing operations of the multibillion shilling industry.

“The government has not involved the stakeholders who will be affected by the decision yet we are willing to adhere to all the regulations set,” said Mr Collins Ochieng.

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They accused the government of taking away the only source of income for thousands of unemployed youth while failing to keep its promise of job creation.

JOBS FOR YOUTH

“The government should be realistic on the number of youth with actual jobs because majority are now relying on betting for survival,” said Mr Mike Baraza, who owns three shops in Embakasi under Betin Company.

Mr Dickson Oktoi, who owns seven betting shops in Kitale, said shutting down the sector will leave thousands of families without as source of income.

He said when he started the business two years ago, he only had three employees and has grown to accommodate more than 20 employees working fulltime.

LICENSES

Mr Oktoi said he is worried about the fate of families that fully depend on the sector employment.

“Before setting up the businesses, we were issued with licenses after thorough vetting and, therefore, we don’t understand why the government is shutting down our businesses,” said Mr Oktoi.

The government targets 27 firms for failing to meet some standards.

Among other issues, the betting firms are accused of tax evasion.

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