After issuing an order to have all Home Bet and Game Bet branches across the country closed over lack of operating licences, police has now swallowed a humble pie and retracted the order.
On Thursday, CID director Joseph Obwona issued an order to all police commanders to close the betting branches on grounds that they had been operating without licenses contrary to sections 26 and 27 of the Lotteries and Gaming Act 2016.
This was established during an operation conducted by officials from the National Gaming Board and a team from police. As soon as the order was issued, the owners of the two gaming companies rushed to the top management of the police and raised complaints of “witch hunt.”
One of the gaming companies in question, Gaming International also known as Game Bet is owned by Vincent Sekate, a senior police officer and spokesperson in charge of CID.
According to the chief executive officer of Home Bet, Michael Koyola, Obwona was well aware of an existing interim order issued by Justice Eldard Mwangusya blocking the closure of the two companies until a petition they had filed was heard and disposed of.
Home Bet went to court in 2015 contesting an order by the National Gaming Board to have every branch of a gaming company have its own operating licence and pay licensing fees, separate from payments by the parent company.
Yesterday, Obwona was summoned by the deputy inspector general of police Sabiiti Muzeeyi to explain what exactly was happening with the gaming companies as well as answer to allegations of witch hunt.
After the meeting with Sabiiti, Obwona wrote a letter to all commanders ordering them to halt implementation of the initial directive.
“The purpose of this communication is, therefore, to direct you to halt the enforcement and permit them to operate until directed otherwise,” reads the communication in part.