NAIROBI, KENYA: More than 500,000 Kenyans mostly youths have been blacklisted by the credit reference bureaus (CRB) for failure to repay loans borrowed for gambling, the government has said.
Speaking on Monday during a meeting with betting stakeholders in Nairobi, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i accused gambling firms of turning youths into borrowing machines, adding that the government must regulate the sector.
“Most of our youths are in gambling but they are jobless hence they have to borrow money to gamble,” Matiang'i said.
A recent survey by Transunion Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) found that 316,455 people in a group of 600,000 cases had been negatively listed for outstanding balances of less than Sh100 associated with mobile money.
"Uncontrolled gambling has reorganized the financial lives of poor Kenyans in very drastic ways. This money is directly pocketed by firms owned by non-Kenyans.”
Matiangi also said the government will deport directors of betting companies who do not have genuine work permits to do gambling.
“Anyone who applied for a different permit and ended in gambling business should be deported. I am ready to sign their deportation papers today. We have to clean up the sector,” said Matiang’i.
According to Matiang’i, the annual turnover in the gambling industry soared from Sh2 billion to over Sh200 billion in the last five years.
The CS challenged gambling firms with required regulations to operate in the country to remit their taxes, adding that the firms owed the government Sh26 billion unpaid taxes.
Early last month, CS Matiang’i had announced that betting firms had until July 1 to pay all their taxes or risk having their licences canceled.
“To show that we are serious, all betting licenses in the country stand suspended effective July 1, 2019 unless the holders pay all their taxes,” he said.
Matiang’i decried the betting craze in the country especially among youth asking, “What are we teaching our children?”
According to him, 76 per cent of young people are involved in one form of betting or the other.