The government has moved in to rein in betting firms after it declined to renew licenses for 19 entities following a rigorous vetting process.
The Interior ministry, in a statement released Monday, revealed that the future of the firms, whose identities were not revealed, now depends on further “security vetting on both their operations and directors”.
In addition, the ministry also announced it had deferred the renewal of licenses for 13 casinos, six lotteries and eight betting firms.
The announcement was made two days after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i hinted that most betting firms would lose their operating licenses once the vetting process is concluded.
Speaking in Kisii on Saturday Dr Matiang’i said that most of the betting firms have not been paying taxes and are to blame for increased idling amongst the youth in the country.
“We cannot be a gambling nation. We must live an honest life. Many youth end up frustrated when they fail in gambling and end up committing suicide,” said the CS.
The ministry said it will continue regulating the availability, accessibility and affordability of all forms of gambling including casinos and public lotteries.
It also said that it will tighten the operational requirements for betting companies and conduct sustained vetting of all licenses in the gaming industry.
In that regard, firms found to be non-compliant will be barred from operating in the country.
“All licenses will undergo a quarterly review to determine their level of compliance, and the cumulative review shall be used in deciding if they qualify for renewal or not upon the expiry of the licenses,” the ministry said Monday in a statement.
The government assured investors that it will continue to provide an enabling environment for businesses to operate within the confines of the law.
Studies have shown that gambling is a multi-billion industry in Africa, with Kenya leading in the number of young people hooked to the vice through sports betting.
The effects of this situation have been increased idleness among the youth as they spend most of their productive time gambling.
There has also been an increase in petty crimes as some youth steal to cater for their betting demands.
In some extreme cases, some addicts commit suicide after losing their bets.
Gambling prevalence in the country has been fuelled by increased internet penetration and use of mobile phones among the Kenyan youth.