WASHINGTON D.C. – Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines is reaching across the aisle to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to introduce a bill to address gambling addiction among service members.
The Gambling Addiction Prevention act would require the Department of Defense to begin tracking gambling disorder in its health assessments.
The DOD would also develop policies and programs to prevent and treat gambling problems among service members.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, an estimated 56,000 active duty service members may meet the criteria for gambling disorder.
“Countless service members and veterans suffer from gambling addiction,” stated Daines. “Under this bipartisan bill, these men and women can get the help they need to get back on the right track.”
“Gambling addiction among our service members and veterans is a serious problem and it’s time our military gave this issue the attention it deserves,” stated Warren. “I’m pleased to work with Senator Daines on a bill that ensures our service members get the right kind of prevention and treatment for gambling disorder—the men and women who serve our country deserve nothing less.”
A 2017 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found that despite having over 3,000 slot machines on military installations across the world, DOD does not systematically screen military personnel for gambling disorder.
In its report, the GAO recommended that the DOD incorporate questions on gambling disorder in its annual health assessments and DOD-wide surveys in order to better understand the prevalence of gambling disorder in the military and improve the military’s ability to offer treatment.
The Gambling Addiction Prevention Act implements the GAO’s recommendations by requiring the DOD to include gambling disorder screening questions in health assessments for members of the armed forces and in other survey and research efforts.
The bill also requires the DOD to develop policies and programs to prevent and treat gambling problems, in coordination with other behavioral health efforts.
On military sites where gambling activities take place, such policies and programs would include provision of educational materials and promotion of responsible behavior.
The legislation is endorsed by the National Council on Problem Gambling, Association of Problem Gambling Administrators, National Center for Responsible Gaming, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, and Montana Council on Problem Gambling.