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Senators fault Matiang’i for shutdown of betting companies

Senators have faulted Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matingi for being tough on the operations of the betting firms following the closure of 17 gaming companies across the country.

Responding to a gambling row in parliament sought by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala on Thursday, the senators said the country can not be run by fiat.

“We do not want to live in a country that public policies depend on the CS sitting in the office instead of the rule of law,” said Malala.

The senators demand that the laws regulating betting companies be reviewed, claiming CS Matiangi misuses his powers.

Kenyans queueing to bet [Source: Region week]

On Tuesday, Interior CS Matiang’i signed immediate deportation orders for 17 gambling firms executives, most of whom are from Russia and Bulgaria, for violating the terms of their local work permits.

The Central Bank of Kenya this week notified banks to stop providing services to betting companies that have not complied with the state regulation.

“This is to bring to your attention that the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) has not renewed the operating licences of certain bookmakers and lottery operators for the period July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020. Please find attached the list of entities whose licences have not been renewed for your information,” read a statement from CBK.

The betting firms are said not to have complied with tax regulations, according to the government.

The companies, on the other hand, consistently refute claims that they have not complied with tax obligations.

“The reason advanced for this shutdown range from taxation, morality and money laundering claims that have rocketed the financial sector. Suppose these claims were valid, the government should have invoked the provisions of the Betting, Lottery and Gaming Act about the forfeiture of licence and security on conviction and disqualification of the betting firms and not engage in the blanket condemnation of the companies,” said senator Malala.

Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen said the CS powers should be exercised appropriately.

“The minister’s powers are donated by the Constitution and can be repealed. We should overhaul all gambling laws in the country. We need to understand whose responsibility is to licence and ensure the permit is protected,” said Mr Murkomen.

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