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Arrest illegal gambling before it's too late

By The Standard | November 8th 2016
Administration police officers display Chinese betting machines at Kisii police station, many parents in the region have been complaining to the authorities that their children have been addicted to betting firms forcing others to think of getting quick cash through stealing petty things in their homestead to get betting cash [PHOTO: SAMMY OMINGO STANDARD]

The Betting Control and Licensing Board has raised a red flag over the rise of illegal gambling across the country.

A new Chinese-made slot machine that is readily available and easy to play is relegating sports betting to the reserves.

These machines are virtually in every corner of any urban centre, giving rise to fears that a culture of gambling is taking root in the country.

The result is unregulated gambling even in slums and villages. They are installed in tiny rooms and one can use as little as Sh10 or Sh20 coins.

The board's warning could not have come at a better time.

With the long school holidays, the gambling shops have ready clientele - school children. The urge to win has been blamed for the rise in domestic theft cases where children pinch cash from their parents.

That is unfortunate. Sadly, those who operate these businesses do not even care to find out from where the children are getting the money.

Last week, eight people were arrested and 47 slot machines impounded in Kisumu County.

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At Nyamasaria Shopping Centre, there are more than 20 such machines strategically located at the entrance of popular shops and stalls. In Maralal town, police arrested 19 suspects and impounded 35 gambling machines.

This is why this newspaper supports BCLB's order to all county commissioners to confiscate the machines. BCLB must also make sure that they only license businesses that will not endanger society.

Apart from licensing betting, the board has the responsibility to protect underage and vulnerable persons against a bunch of buccaneers out to make a killing without a care in the world.

Parents and other players must help the board put a stop to illegal gambling.

They need to identify operators who allow school-going children to get involved in gambling for punitive action to be taken against them.

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