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Veterans and Problem Gambling: What’s the Connection?  

Published: July 3, 2023

With tomorrow being Independence Day, now is a time when people often pause to celebrate our freedom and honor the active military and veterans who’ve served to protect it. With veterans being twice as likely to develop a problem with gambling compared to civilians, today is also a good time to highlight this problem and provide resources and support to those who might need support. 

Research has shown that veterans have an increased risk of developing a problem with gambling for a few reasons. Many military bases provide plenty of opportunities to gamble, whether it’s card games with others, buying scratch-off tickets, or even playing the onsite slot machines.

In addition, when military members live on base, they can often experience long periods of boredom or stress, and gambling can offer an escape, providing another opportunity for a problem with gambling to develop.

Once service members return home, either as veterans or on non-active duty, they might be processing some traumatic experiences and navigating the emotions that come with them. This is why veterans are also more likely to struggle with other mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder  (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. 

The stats:

• Veterans with PTSD are up to 60% more likely to be at-risk with problem gambling 

• Depression among veterans who have been diagnosed with disordered gambling is as high as 76% 

• Of veterans who use veteran treatment services, up to 10% at-risk with problem gambling 

• Among veterans seeking treatment, those who have reported attempting suicide is as high as 40%

Veterans like Josh understand how gambling can take over a person’s life. He struggled with it for years before deciding he was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” He finally reached a point where he reached out to get help through the Problem Gambling Helpline and now has over five years in recovery. 

Watch the video below to hear Josh’s story.

The trained and understanding operators at the completely confidential Problem Gambling Helpline are available to answer calls from the veteran and active military community and anyone else wondering about their gambling behaviors or those of someone they know. Call the free, 24/7 Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or text 4HOPE to 741741. 

The National Council on Problem Gambling’s online prevention tool,, also provides resources for veterans and active military members. 

Additionally, Before You Bet has assembled a veteran toolkit of resources to raise awareness about problem gambling and promote responsible gambling behaviors. These resources, which include posters, handouts, and social media posts, can be used by any community organization. 

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