The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), the national organization for people and their families who are affected by problem gambling and gambling addiction, has welcomed the reintroduction of the bipartisan Gambling Addiction Prevention (GAP) Act of 2019 by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Steve Daines. The GAP Act, drawn up to protect members of the military, is complemented by companion legislation introduced in the House by Representative Susie Lee.

Keith Whyte, Executive Director of NCPG, commented: “I applaud Senators Daines and Warren and Representative Lee for taking the lead on the GAP Act to address problem gambling in the military. NCPG believes there exists an ethical and economic obligation to protect our troops by preventing gambling addiction. 

“Problem gambling is a critical issue that is far too often overlooked. Research reveals that problem gambling uniquely impacts the military. For example, an estimated 56,000 servicemembers meet the criteria for problem gambling, while military members lost $100m on 3,000 slot machines at overseas bases in 2018 alone. Clearly, the Department of Defense holds an even higher obligation to address problem gambling because of the windfall profits they make from gambling.”

Senator Warren added: “It’s our duty as Americans to honor the sacrifices service members and veterans make for our country. Senator Daines and I are reintroducing our bipartisan legislation to make sure veterans struggling with gambling addiction can get the treatment they need.” 

Far too many service men and women suffer from gambling addictions,” said Senator Daines. “This bill protects our troops by requiring the Defense Department to confront this growing problem head on.”

The updated Gambling Addiction Prevention Act of 2019 would require the Department of Defense (DOD) to develop policies and programs to prevent and treat gambling problems, in coordination with the Department’s other behavioral health efforts. 

On military sites where gambling activities take place, such policies and programs would include providing educational materials and promoting responsible gambling behavior. It also requires the Department to update its regulations, instructions, and guidance to explicitly include gambling disorder within 180 days of the passage of the Act.