The Betting Control and Licensing Board on Wednesday destroyed 32 gambling machines confiscated in Kilifi County.
The operation was led by BCLB Director Sabrina Kanini and Kilifi County Commissioner Magu Mutindika.
The team conducted the raids in Mtwapa, Kilifi, Malindi and Gongoni towns that lasted up to 3.00am.
Speaking to journalists after the exercise Kanini accused police officers for derailing the fight against the illegal gambling machines
“Some of the machines were confiscated just next to the police station .They are programmed in such a way that you cannot win a gamble. This is why we have classified these machines as illegal. Police officers have let us down because they know these machines are illegal but still frequent in areas where the machines are used for gambling,” said Kanini.
The director said that there are some circumstances where gamblers fight amongst themselves and the police officers become the peacemakers.
“When the police officers are called at the scene instead of confiscating the machine and arresting the owner of the machine they separate the gamblers,”said Kanini
Kanini said the gambling machines are mostly owned by foreigners while a number of them were found being operated in other businesses.
“Nigerians own the machines in Mtwapa town. We found a machine in a butchery and another one in an Mpesa shop and another one in Kisumu Ndogo in Malindi was found in a spare parts shop .All this business are licensed but are conducting illegal activities,” she said.
She said that a Nigerian escaped when the officers raided his premises and later planned an attack against the officers.
“He later sent his boys who blocked our vehicle with their car and we reported the matter to the DCI. The car was towed to Mtwapa police station,” she said.
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According to Kanini, many business many approached them with bribes to release their machines.
“In Gongoni we confiscated a machine worth Ksh250, 000. The owner offered us Ksh250, 000. He followed us on a motorbike until we threatened him with arrest. If we were being bribed with that amount, how much do our police officers get to allow them operate? This is big challenge for us,” she said
Kanini said the cash found in the machines will go to various charity activities.
“We are going to take the money to orphanages so that they can buy food, ”she said.
Kilifi county commissioner Magu Mutindika said 56 gambling machines have been set ablaze within one month.
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He said the gambling machines are found mainly in the big towns in the County where the population of gamblers is high.
The County Commissioner said most business people hide the machines once they get wind of a police raid.
“We normally get a challenge in confiscating these machines because most business men lock their doors when they see any police vehicles and there are houses you cannot access without a court order. But we are not going to give up on this war,” he said
Mutindika ordered the DCI in Mtwapa to make sure the Nigerian is arrested and charged.
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“We will make sure that this Nigerian is arrested and deported because his business in this Country is to spoil our children. Children as young as 16 years flock his place to gamble,” said Mutindika
There has been a public outcry in Kilifi after school children were spotted in gambling joints instead of being in class.