Slot Machine Service

Slot Machine Service – US military-run slot machines earn $100 million a year from service members overseas The US military operates more than 3,000 slot machines at US military bases overseas, although problem gamblers in the military are thought to be about twice as high as in the general population.

In this June 23, 2021 photo, a row of slot machines sit empty at a sand casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Wayne Parry/AP Hide caption

Slot Machine Service

In this June 23, 2021 photo, a row of slot machines sit empty at the Sands Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

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The U.S. military operates more than 3,000 slot machines on American military bases overseas, although problem gamblers in the military are thought to be about twice as high as the rest of the general population, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling, an organization dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by problem gambling. Support for services

The slot machines, operated by the US Department of Defense, earn the DOD more than $100 million a year in what it calls “morale, welfare and recreation” for service members, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office responding to congressional demands.

Slots are often found on bases with nothing of value to do, such as Diego Garcia — a 12-square-mile island in the Indian Ocean with a population of just 4,000 people — where the Navy operates 52 slot machines. And they can be played by service members under the age of 18 — people who wouldn’t be allowed into most casinos in the United States before age 21.

In 1951, Congress banned slot machines from domestic military bases after passing legislation to that effect. Two decades later, the Army and Air Force removed them from all overseas bases as well, only to reinstate overseas slot machines in the 1980s. The military’s latest tally in 2017 shows the machines are located at bases in 12 countries – mostly operated by the military.

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The machines are operated by the respective military branch’s MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) groups, which provide “high-quality, customer-centered programs and services that contribute to resilience, retention, readiness, and quality of life.” “

A Pentagon report in the early 2000s claimed that without slot machines, MWR groups would not be able to afford other amenities for military members, such as golf courses and family activity centers. DOD spokesman Cmdr. Nicole Schweigman echoed that argument, saying the machines “contribute significantly to unspent funds and many other entertainment and entertainment overseas programs.”

The exact number of problem gamblers among service members is difficult to know because the military stopped screening for it more than a decade ago and resumed screening after the 2017 GAO report. However, a 2008 study of 31,000 Air Force recruits found that 6.2% exhibited some of the behaviors required to be considered problem gamblers. A 2016 study on the experiences of returning veterans found that 4.2% were risky or problem gamblers after returning from deployment. Taking these and other studies into account, the National Council on Problem Gambling conservatively estimates that 4% of military personnel meet criteria for moderate to severe gambling problems – twice the national average.

“What we know about military personnel — that they are younger, male, risk-taking, with higher rates of substance abuse, stress, depression, PTSD or traumatic injury — is strongly correlated with problem gambling,” NCPG Executive Director Keith White said in a statement.

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While deployed overseas, service members are often isolated, separated from friends and family, and receive increased pay. For those looking for entertainment on base, slot machines are often a quick walk away.

In 2018, lawmakers from both parties said they believed the number of gamblers in the military could potentially pose a threat to national security, making service members susceptible to blackmail and hampering security clearances.

But sense. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Steve Daines, R-Mont. Legislation introduced by to curb this menace and provide assistance to those struggling with gambling addiction has not made it into law.

Some independent veterans, including those affected by gambling addiction, say they see the machines as a strategy for what some in the military call “harm reduction” — the idea that gambling on base can keep someone off base, where the odds could be worse. And the stakes can be high.

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“I spent hours in front of the slot machines on base and usually left $50 or less,” Ed Grabowski, a Navy veteran, said. “I don’t see how that’s really going to pose a problem. I can drop $50 on a pinball machine.”

But few – if any – studies show that service members are better off playing base slots than gambling elsewhere.

“From a gambling perspective, there is no evidence that slot machines are a form of harm reduction,” Dr. Timothy Fong, co-director of UCLA’s Gambling Studies Program, said

Fong says he is focusing on how these machines are controlled. “My concern is that they are run by the DOD — not by any public health institution or gaming regulatory group,” he said.

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Fong said he has met active duty military members who developed gambling addictions in part because of easy access to base slot machines. For Fong, one of the most dangerous aspects of gambling addictions is that they are not overtly obvious like other addictions.

NCPG’s Whyte agrees, noting that without some sort of realistic warning system or limits on gambling, “the first signs of addiction are often other crimes like theft, fraud, going AWOL, [and] conduct disorders”—all crimes that can lead to one. dishonorable discharge

Aaron Walsh, an Army Apache pilot, lost $20,000 on an Army slot machine in South Korea, resigned to avoid court martial, and eventually killed himself.

“I’m angry. It’s a life lost needlessly because of the military’s failure to take problem gambling seriously, and there are many more of those stories,” White said.

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The government has tried to take steps to address the problem, including through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs a program in Brecksville, Ohio, for veterans and active duty personnel struggling with problem gambling. Separately, the annual personal health assessment for all active duty military members now includes three health screening questions aimed at detecting gambling addiction.

The Department of Defense said it has “comprehensive controls in place to minimize potential abuse by limiting hours of operation, limiting access to machines, limiting the number of machines on site, limiting the amount of play and limiting potential winnings.”

Army veteran Dave Yeager says that when he arrived at Yongsan Army Base in South Korea after Sept. 11, 2001, he didn’t have a gambling problem. He says that even while living near Atlantic City, N.J., he wasn’t tempted to play in the base’s slot room like the base in South Korea.

“I found myself there 7 days a week. … A lot of the draw of those rooms and how easy it was to get to them developed my addiction,” he said, adding that there was little oversight at the time. .

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There were literally days that I would go there when the slot room opened on a Saturday morning and leave when it closed. No one comes up to me and says, ‘You’ve been here too long.’ no one Nothing,” she said.

Yeager, who now counsels active duty members with gambling addictions, says he hasn’t heard that anything has changed. The success of mobile sports betting in New York State has led to the opening of three full-service casinos in or near five. The boroughs with a casino in Manhattan as a possibility.

New York passed the 100-day mark of legalized mobile sports betting on Sunday, with the amount of money wagered by residents—and the state’s revenue generated—exceeding proponents’ expectations. New Yorkers have wagered nearly $5 billion so far, and the state has collected at least $163 million, according to the State Gaming Commission. The Super Bowl, March Madness and NBA games have helped draw gamblers since the Jan. 8 opening of legal operators.

State Sen. Joseph Addabo Jr. of Queens and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow admits that New Yorkers’ enthusiasm for mobile sports betting has exceeded his predictions. The two men created the mobile sports betting law that worked in Albany in 2020 and 2021.

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Adabo, chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Betting Committee, said he did not want to be idle. In addition to including more than nine operators in the mobile sports betting framework, Adabo wants to legalize mobile sports betting for horse racing and NASCAR and has long been a proponent of legalized casino gambling across the state.

“I’m impressed with how quickly we’ve succeeded,” he said. “We should be ready, and sit without rest, and it should succeed forever. We need to ask: How do you make it?

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