At least 200 gambling machines were impounded in Voi, Taita Taveta, on Thursday following a directive by Commissioner Rodah Onyancha for all shops in the county to be closed.
Onyancha directed chiefs and other administrators to confiscate the coin-slot gaming machines saying that students and unemployed youths were highly involved and that the number of crimes had increased.
“Impound all those machines in a week. We cannot have a society that does not want to work,” she said. “Our women and youths are losing a lot of money through these machines.”
The County Commissioner warned chiefs whose areas will entertain gaming stations that they will face disciplinary action including the loss of their jobs.
Last year, a report by the county revealed that at least 3,000 youths played the games and that the business was booming in towns including Voi, Taveta, Maungu and Mwatate.
Onyancha said women were the biggest losers of the gambling that had left families broken.
“We have realised that women gamble with money meant for shopping only to pick quarrels with their husbands when they lose it. This has also affected our education standards.”
Gambling operators have faulted the government’s move saying it contravenes a court order issued by the Voi High court.
“The court directed us to reopen our businesses pending hearing and determination of our case against the county. They should not close our businesses,” said Saidi Mwasho, a coin slot machine operator.
Through Mulwa, Isika & Mutua Advocates, Robert Mureithi and 17 other operators petitioned Taita Taveta and Getrude Shuwe, who is executive for Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives.
They said actions against their businesses were illegal and unconstitutional.
~ The Star
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