Gambling opportunities continue to increase nationally and throughout the world. Most people can gambling without experiencing problems, but for some, gambling can become a problem. Those in the military, veterans, and their families are susceptible to gambling problems.
How does gambling effect service members and their families? Some of the following consequences can occur with problem or pathological gambling:
- • Letters of indebtedness
- • Bounced checks
- • Misuse of government credit cards
- • Security risk
- • Forgery
- • Embezzlement
- • Loss of rank
- • Divorce
- • Lost work time/ productivity
- • Forced retirements
- • Bad conduct discharges
- • Suicidal risks
Why is problem gambling an issue with active and retired military?
- • Active military tend to be young & athletic, highly competitive, risk takers, and in high stress situations.
- • Retired military may have extra time on their hands. Gambling may be a replacement for the action. According to the Florida Prevalence Study (2003), those with military experience are most likely to increase gambling related difficulties.
- • Gambling activities are commonplace within veterans recreational establishments, clubs, and on some military bases.
Reasons Active and Retired Military and Family Members Gamble
- • Socialize or as a form of entertainment
- • Win money or other items of value
- • Pass the time
- • Cope with separation
- • Relieve stress
- • Thrill seeking
- • Escape reality
- Slot machines on military installations since the 1930’s
- Removed from CONUS installations 1951
- Renewed interested as revenue generators for Welfare and Recreational Funds/Activities in 1960’s
- Removed from Army & Air Force bases 1972 after illegal activities but brought back in 1980
- Approximately 4,150 video slot on installations in nine countries
- Some estimates put revenue from slots at approximately $120 million
- About 2.2 percent of military personnel have indicators of probable pathological gambling
- 1.2 percent of all service members, or about 17,500 persons, had reported five or more behaviors identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Exhibiting five or more of these characteristics is an indication of probable pathological gambling, according to the American Psychological Association.
- The Marine Corps (7.9 percent) showed the highest rate of at least one gambling problem.
- An estimated 11 percent of heavy drinkers had at least one problem associated with gambling in their lifetime, compared with 6.3 percent of military personnel overall, regardless of drinking level. Some 5.1 percent of heavy drinkers had five or more gambling problems.
Survey of Health Related Behaviors Among Military Personnel, Department of Defense, 2002.
- In a study of military veterans entering treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder conducted in 2005 (Biddle et al., 2005) 17% met DMS-IV criteria for problem gambling.
- Levens et al (2005) found that of 843 elderly adults, 11% were identifies as at risk gamblers with post traumatic stress disorder symptoms being one of the strongest predictors.
- Ledgerwood and Petry (2006) found that among treatment – seeking pathological gamblers, 34% had a high level of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms. The researchers further estimate that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among problem gamblers is at between 12 and 29 percent.