Kenya burns 105 illegal slot machines and threatens deportations

By Nicole Gheller

In a bold move to tackle crime, Kenya has burned at least 105 illegal gambling machines and threatened to deport any foreigners involved in selling or assembling them.

The government hopes to get rid of all illegal gambling machines by 30 June, most of which are reportedly smuggled in from China.

While Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i warned foreigners they face deportation, no one has been expelled so far.  Mr Matiang'i  has also warned government officials that they would be fired, arrested and charged if they were involved in illegal gambling activities.

Kenya's multi-billion shilling betting industry is in the spotlight because of a 35% per cent income tax  imposed by the government. Gaming companies have protested that the tax is too high, Kenya's Standard news online has reported.

The Counties Amusement and Gaming Society of Kenya, which represents local businesses,  said the crackdown could lead to losses in revenue for counties and the country if legal operators were caught up in the purge.

James Kianda, Bungoma County Commissioner, told the Standard that some students have dropped out of school hoping to make quick money by gambling and that the government's move is to suppress crime and help addicted youth.

“We have received reports that the children also steal money from their parents and gamble with it. Some sell utensils to scrap metal dealers to get gambling money. All scrap metal dealers are also warned against buying scrap metal from school-going children,” he said.

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