June 18, 2015 at 7:01 PM
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Thursday adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, calling for the Government Accountability Office to study whether additional resources are needed to help members of the armed forces who struggle with gambling addictions.
“If the military is going to operate gambling facilities that bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue, it also needs to ensure there is adequate prevention, treatment, and financial counseling available for service members struggling with gambling addictions,” said Warren, D-Massachusetts.
The Department of Defense currently operates an estimated 3,000 slot machines at military installations overseas, generating annual estimated revenues of $100 million-plus and millions more from bingo games, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. However, the Department of Defense has no dedicated treatment program or prevention efforts for problem gambling.
“By examining the risk of problem gambling among servicemembers and the resources currently available, this amendment is an important first step in helping members of the armed forces and their families who are affected by problem gambling,” Warren said.
Studies consistently find gambling addiction rates among active-duty servicemembers and veterans are significantly higher than the general population, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. An estimated 36,000 active-duty members of the military meet criteria for a gambling problem, the Washington-based organization reports.
(MassLive.com – Conor Berry)