Links between Problem Gaming and the Military Might Exist

The International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) Conference on Gambling and Addiction took place yesterday. During the event, notable industry specialists unveiled an alarming statistic that shows members of the military are much more vulnerable to gambling addiction.

Dr Shane Kraus, a member of the Department of Psychology at UNLV and Joshua Grubb, a member of Bowling Green State University revealed that a recent study strongly suggests military members tend to be problem gamblers more often than regular civilians.

The study was backed by two of the biggest names in gaming, namely DraftKings and Playtech, and saw 3,050 US citizens questioned. As it turns out, the problem gambling rate among veterans and active duty military members is a whopping 3.5 times higher than the problem gambling rate among civilians. The study places these rates at 68.6% for military personnel and at 18.7% for regular citizens.

Kindbridge Research Institute’s Military Research Associate Program (MRAP) is one program that is tailored to the needs of veterans. The program isn’t strictly focused on gambling harm but helps former soldiers transition from military service to normal life and provides them with advanced mental health training. In addition, the 50x4Vets project seeks to boost the research rate on gambling harm treatment for veterans by 50 times in the next four years.

Further Research Is Needed

Dr Kraus noted that this study should be used as a basis for further research that will better evaluate the connection between military duty and problem gambling. This would help safer gambling initiatives react on time and help soldiers who might struggle with gambling addiction.

Nathan Smith, Exec Director at the Kindbridge Research Institute shared his thoughts on the findings. He compared the situation to a “canary in a coal mine,” meaning that further research is needed to understand the severity of the problem. While the 3,050 people that were questioned constitute a small sample, it goes to show that a larger pattern might exist.

The significant rate of gambling problems in active duty military is a major red flag and larger, more representative studies of active duty military are now vital to determine what the true rate of gambling disorder is in this population.

Nathan Smith, executive director, Kindbridge Research Institute

Right now, the US Department of Defense has about 3,000 slot machines installed in overseas bases. According to statistics, these machines earn over $100 million dollars of annual revenue and might be a part of the problem. According to Smith, the Department does not employ most of the responsible gaming policies recommended by the American Gaming Association and thus exposes military personnel to more harm.

Smith also noted that, according to estimates, only 40% of US veterans receive adequate problem gaming treatment. In addition, other studies suggest that some problem gamblers end up feeling suicidal. Because of that, Smith concluded, identifying the links between gambling harm and military members should be a top priority.

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