Gaming war targets small players, says Okiya in suit

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

The crackdown on betting and gambling machines has been opposed in court on grounds that the shutdown discriminates against small players.

Activist Okiya Omtatah has sued Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, his principal secretary Karanja Kibicho and county commissioners, over the crackdown and wants them to be personally liable for destruction of the machines.

Mr Omtatah claimed that there is more harm in the society from online and digital gambling platforms operated by multinational companies more than the local small businesses being targeted.

He has accused the sued parties of being agents of the multinational companies hence they are personally acting to eliminate local competition.

Mr Omtatah has faulted government position that the crackdown is aimed at of protecting vulnerable groups from the ills of gaming.

He said digital gambling on unlicensed gadgets like TVs and mobile phones has invaded all spheres of life. There are 19 county commissioners listed in the suit.

Gaming machine operators have also filed contempt proceedings against county governments and the police for defying a court order prohibiting a crackdown.