Nyeri residents vouch for law to control betting firms

Nyeri residents give their views on the gaming bill 2019 to the National Assembly Committee on Sports, Culture and Tourism led by chairman Victor Munyaka in Nyeri town. [Lydiah Nyawira, Standard]

A section of Nyeri residents want restrictions on betting and gambling to be introduced.

The residents are concerned that youth in the county have become addicted to gambling.

In a public forum to seek views on the Gaming Bill 2019 on Saturday in Nyeri Town, the residents agreed that it is time the law was changed to control gambling.

The forum was hosted by the National Assembly committee on Tourism, Culture and Sports, which is tasked with reviewing the Gaming Bill.

Speaking during the meet, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said gambling had given youth the impression that they could make money from gambling.

“You cannot become rich from gambling. So many people are gambling and when they lose, they become depressed and suicidal,” Mr Wambugu said.

“We need policies that make it difficult for people to gamble. Unfortunately people think it is a get-rich-quick scheme, which it is not.”

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Bernard Mureithi, a resident, said betting firms should stop targeting the youth with advertisement on TV and Radio.

“All gaming adverts cleverly position people who have won to convince their target audiences that gambling can make you become rich instantly. To begin with, the identity of the winners should be barred,” Mr Mureithi said.

Responding to the views, the committee's chairman Victor Munyaka said a change in law to reflect the residents' concerns is imperative.

“The current law is archaic. It was put in place in 1966 and fails to address modern challenges and new developments in gaming including online betting, privacy concerns and the exposure of minors to gambling," said Mr Munyaka.

“There Gaming Bill 2019 will address these emerging issues. That is why we want the input of Kenyans on what they would like addressed.”

Munyaka said the Bill has a clause that prohibits the use of winners to entice people to gamble.

Locals were also concerned with the issue of privacy. They said they were not happy with the way betting firms send phone messages to entice them to bet.

“How did these firms get my phone number yet I do not bet? This is a breach of privacy," Joseph Wamae, another resident said.

Munyaka lauded the participants for their insights, and said the committee will incorporate their views in the Bill.

“We are confident the Bill will sail through. For now, we will hold other forums in Meru, Machakos and Kirinyaga ,” Munyaka said.

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Gaming Bill 2019