May 27, 2024 3 min read


US Military Slots Generate $100M Annually, Stirring Addiction Fears

A former sergeant with lived experience of gambling harm reveals that the military doesn't dedicate resources to gambling harm prevention or education

The expansion of sports betting across the United States granted millions of Americans access to legal wagering. Concurrently, came concerns about the negative impact of excessive betting and potential gambling harm. While young adults are usually more susceptible to addiction and problem gambling, so are individuals who undergo heavy stress on a daily basis.

According to a newly released report by the Guardian, more than 3,000 slot machines are currently operated by the US military in a dozen countries across the globe. Although slot gambling within military bases was banned back in the 1950s, the activity made its way back around the 1980s. It was believed that this form of gambling entertainment could keep the US troops from getting into trouble.

However, the combination of gambling and stress do not mix well, which is why some soldiers have already been identified as addicted to gambling. The American nonprofit organization that seeks to address gambling-related harm, the National Council on Problem Gambling, estimates that approximately 56,000 US military personnel members might qualify for a gambling disorder. Across the country, an estimated 1% of the population suffers from problem gambling and the percentage is similar for the US military, as per the Council’s data.

The slot machines operated by the US military rake in more than $100 million per year. Such proceeds are allocated toward different welfare and recreational initiatives that take place on military bases. The activities can include golf, movie theater facilities and other amenities that cater to US military personnel.

The Military Doesn’t Invest in Gambling Harm Prevention or Education

The publication told the story of a 57-year-old former sergeant with the US military who felt the negative impact of gambling harm firsthand. He explained that his first encounter with slots was back in Seul, Korea, where he was stationed after September 11, 2001. The gambling addiction of the former sergeant quickly grew out of proportion and ultimately resulted in him losing his job with the military, the accumulation of a gambling debt and a divorce.

It has taken the former sergeant years to deal with his gambling addiction and turn his life around. Speaking about the military mentality that teaches you to leave your problems behind and “fix” issues on your own, the man admitted that it was challenging to kick off his gambling addiction. He focused on the danger of chasing losses in gambling, saying if you “add the warrior mentality to that, and you’ve basically got gambling addiction on steroids.”

The former sergeant said that despite collecting millions from slots, the military doesn’t invest in gambling harm prevention or education. The man said that if you are affected by problem gambling “it’s not treated as a mental health issue and an addiction” but rather as a “money problem and a disciplinary issue.”

Free from gambling addiction, the 57-year-old helps raise awareness of the dangers of the activity. He settled his gambling debt and managed to resolve issues with his family and remarry.

It is not only in the US that fears about the impact of gambling addiction in the military are on the rise. Last month, Ukrainian soldiers were barred from gambling after President Volodymyr Zelensky greenlighted new measures that seek to protect the military from the activity. As a result, active military personnel were banned from any form of gambling activities, including via online or land-based outlets, for the duration of the martial law in Ukraine.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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