Betting firms owners win another round in crackdown case

Gambling machines and shisha pots go up in
Gambling machines and shisha pots go up in flames in Nairobi this month. photo | MARTIN MUKANGU   

The High Court has extended orders stopping the crackdown on gaming machines, pending the hearing of a case filed by over 500 business owners.

The businesses moved to court last week arguing that the government has intensified the crackdown, stalling their businesses, yet they are licensed to operate.

Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, the gaming machine operators told Justice Wilfrida Okwany that the clampdown has intensified in the past three months under the pretext of cracking down on illegal operators.

He said that so far, chiefs and other administrators have destroyed some 2,700 gaming and betting machines and looted the monies contained in the machines, contrary to orders of the court.

Mr Mungai said the crackdown was in contravention of Article 40 of the constitution that guarantees the operators’ protection of the right to property. He added that the illegal acts have made them lose over Sh105 million.

Mr Samuel Kahiu and 549 others argued that regional commissioners, county commissioners and their subordinates such as chiefs have launched massive crackdown of gaming machines, which are later set on fire.

These activities, Mr Mungai said, are carried out in pretext that the operators that they are operating illegally. In a sworn statement, Mr Kahiu said they have adhered to all the regulations and operating legally. He denied the allegation that the said machines are a danger to national security arguing that gambling is constitutional.

The operators obtained orders stopping the government from harassing or arresting any of them in 2016. However, Mr Kahiu said more operators have been arrested and arraigned in court following a directive by Dr Fred Matiang’i.