The Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i is in dire war with over 20 betting firms after ordering blocking of their payment systems on basis that the firms are yet to meet undisclosed licensing requirements and are being vetted to establish if they are fit to hold gambling permits.
The order comes weeks after the State said it had refused to renew operating permits for 19 gambling firms and deferred eight others in a shake-up of an industry that generates more than Sh200 billion in annual sales.
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino now claims that Matiang’i’s method on the renewing the betting firms licences is discriminatory, tribal and just a plot targeting to maliciously do away with some of the competitive betting firms.
The obviously agitated vocal MP went on to declare that Matiang’i’s war was not against betting, but only the giant betting Company Sportpesa.
“This looks like a direct war on SportPesa. How is it a war on betting when Matiangi has renewed some betting licenses? Who owns BetLion? Lee Nyachae?” read his statement.
He added; “From the outset, it is clear that this directive is discriminatory and illegal, and cannot stand the test of judicial scrutiny. Therefore, we must ask ourselves what is the motive behind this if not the institutional extortion and blackmail of legally operating businesses”.
He went on to highlight the problems that will come with suspending the betting firms especially on the employment sector with is currently chocking the country.
“Sportpesa and Betin employ thousands of Kenyans directly and indirectly, paying their fair share to the tax payer and making an invaluable contribution to the Kenyan economy. This draconian action will leave so many young people jobless at the end of month and cut off tens of thousands from livelihoods. Who will pay their children’s school fees? Who will feed these families? We must tread carefully lest we impoverish our nation’s youth in the name of betting control”.
Sportpesa which has recently outcried that the move to disrupt their business said that it is not only going to have massive repercussion to the company but also the countries social and economic agenda of the economy.
“This is the latest in a series of abrupt measures from BCLB that only serve to discourage and disrupt business. The prejudicial process that has been followed by the regulator has the potential to drive the industry underground as well as have far reaching repercussion on the social and economic agenda of the country,” Sportpesa stated.