NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gambling Allowed on U.S. Military Bases

May 23, 2002

Gambling operations are the major source of funds for some operations of the U.S. military, says U.S. News & World Report.

  • Since 1981, the Department of Defense has been raking in a tidy sum from more than 7,000 slot and video poker machines on 94 U.S. military installations overseas.
  • In 2000, for example, the betting devices raised $125 million -- earmarked to pay for various morale boosters like family picnics and the construction of military base clubs, bowling alleys and golf courses.
  • Service members, their dependents and civilian employees spend more than $1 billion annually gambling on base.
  • Two Pentagon studies found that 2 percent -- or an estimated 30,000 service men and women -- "possessed the indicators of probable pathological gambling."

Pentagon officials contend that the revenues are essential and gambling is a harmless source of funding. But experts on gambling addiction argue that gambling often fosters a dependency that results in criminal behavior. However, the military's only gambling treatment program is at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Source: Mark Mazzetti, "Military Casinos: Uncle Sam's One-Armed Bandits," U.S. News & World Report, May 20, 2002.


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