Military veterans are almost 11 TIMES more likely to become problem gamblers than other people, study finds

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  • A study of 1,000 veterans found 43% are gambling problem gamblers.
  • This compares to just 6.5% in the general population, the Swansea researchers said.
  • Findings show gambling is a ‘growing public health issue’, experts say

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Military veterans are about 11 times more likely than other people to become problem gamblers.

A study of 2,185 people found that 43 percent of UK veterans of the armed forces experienced gambling issues—such as risking more money than they could afford to lose.


Compared to non-veterans, veterans had an average debt of over £500.

The study authors concluded that people who have served their country in the military should be monitored for signs of problematic gambling.

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The Granthshala has campaigned against predatory betting firms, and highlighted dozens of traffic cases involving gambling-related suicides.

A study by researchers at Swansea University found that ex-servicemen in the UK Armed Forces are almost 11 times more likely to be problem gamblers than the general population.

Lead author of the report Professor Simon Diamond from Swansea University said the significance of the latest findings is ‘undeniable’, adding: ‘This is the first study to explore the social and economic impact of gambling among UK ex-service personnel. , and our findings are consistent with those of an international body of work that finds veterans are at greater risk of gambling harms.

‘We need to conduct regular checks for gambling problems amongst the UK Armed Forces to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help, and to ensure that those who need confidential help and support are given .’

The study, published in the journal BMJ Military Health, looked at 1,037 military veterans and compared them to 1,148 non-military people of the same sex and same age.

They found that veterans were 10.88 times more likely to experience a gambling problem.

Only 6.5 percent of non-veterans had gambled in an unhealthy way.

Last month a report from the now-disbanded Public Health England showed that gambling was worth around £1.3bn in 2019/20 alone.  According to its report, major costs include the debt burden on the problem gambler and the impact on the breakdown of relationships and families.

Last month a report by the now defunct Public Health England showed that gambling cost the economy around £1.3bn in 2019/20 alone. According to its report, major costs include the debt burden on the problem gambler and the impact on the breakdown of relationships and families.

Veterans generally had more contact with gambling support, alcohol and substance abuse services, and greater hospital admissions and emergency department attendance.

Report co-author Justin Rees Larcombe, who lost £750,000 over three years after becoming addicted to online gambling following a successful career in the military, said: ‘The study clearly identified a problem, so We must address this now because veterans experience the problem of gaming, and support those who suffer the consequences.

‘I became addicted to the thrill of online gambling and it almost ruined my life.

‘I don’t want others to suffer like me.’

The study asked people about gambling activities in the past year, including online gambling, sports bets, casino games and slot machines.

If people said they gambled, they completed another questionnaire on the problem scale, for example, whether people bet more than they could afford to lose.

Nearly two-thirds of non-veterans had gambled but without any problems, compared to less than 38 percent of veterans.

Most of the ex-servicemen in the study were men, about a third were aged 30 to 39, and more than two-thirds were at work, of whom about half were married.

Veterans had an average debt of £1,375, compared to an average of £806 for non-veterans.

The elderly had more contact with the police, and they spent almost twice as much time getting sick from work – an average of 32.7 hours – in the previous year than civilians.

Gambling is linked to job loss, relationship breakdown and criminality, and estimates cost the UK up to £1.6bn each year.

While around 10 per cent of UK military veterans run into financial difficulties after leaving the military, routine mental health assessments after deployment do not currently include gambling.

How the gambling epidemic costs our economy £1.2bn a year

The terrible impact of gambling on the economy and society was revealed in a big report today.

The landmark study by Public Health England (PHE), published last month, puts the cost to the economy at £1.3bn in 2019/20 alone.

Larger costs include the debt burden on the problem gambler and the impact on the breakdown of relationships and families.

It covers the negative impact of gambling on jobs and business efficiency as well as the health losses that drive up costs to the NHS. And it also includes police costs for a gambling-related crime.

The report found that gambling cost England £961 million in terms of mental and physical health last year. Suicide was considered the single biggest expense.

PHE classified this as the ‘intangible’ cost of gambling, meaning that they attempted to estimate the value of human life to our society. This works out to around £1.5million per life.

Heavy drinkers, men, people with mental health problems and those living in the north of England were also identified as having a higher risk of becoming problem gamblers.

PHE concluded that there was a clear association between gambling and mental health issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts and alcohol dependence.



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