Gambling firms lose petition to be allowed to trade

Kakamega OCPD Joseph Chebii points at 41 gambling machines that were confiscated during an operation. [Duncan Ocholla/Standard]

The High Court has dismissed a petition filed by betting firms seeking to stop the Government from confiscating and destroying their gambling machines.

Judge William Musyoka said the firms had failed to prove they were licensed to conduct the business as stipulated in law.

Kipkemboi Keter, Wesley Kipkemoi and Wesley Maliga had gone to court to challenge a letter by Western Regional Cordinator Anne Ng’etich outlawing gambling in Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega and Vihiga counties.

In the letter dated June 22, 2018, Ms Ng’etich ordered county commissioners and commanders to conduct a crackdown on all illegal gambling firms.

In their petition, the three businessmen said they would suffer losses since they had employed agents in various parts of the country.

They sued Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, Attorney General Paul Kihara, and four county commissioners and county commanders.

Irreparable loss

The applicants said they would suffer irreparable loss if the directive to confiscate their gambling machines was not stopped.

In his judgement read by Justice Jesse Njagi, Justice Musyoka said the businessmen did not show documentary evidence that they were licensed to conduct the said business.

“To demonstrate that they have the standing and that they would suffer if the directive is implemented, they ought to have filed documentary proof by attaching copies of business licences issued to them by the relevant authorities.”

The judge said that even if the petition was filed in the public interest, the petitioners ought to have supplied sufficient documentary evidence that they ran the business, had contracted agents and stood to suffer irreparable loss and damage if the ban was effected.

“As it is, the applicants seem to be nothing more than busybodies. Court orders ought not to be made in vain. The upshot of this is that the motion before me is devoid of merit, poorly conceived and is available for dismissal. I dismiss the same with costs to the respondents.”