On 24th June 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers from Government, in reply to five questions about problem gambling and gaming machines in the armed forces and on the armed forces estates:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: (i) HL16430 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of gambling-related harm amongst (1) veterans, and (2) those currently serving in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces; and whether the Ministry of Defence has conducted any research into gambling participation rates in those groups.
(ii) HL16429 to ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) Fixed-Odd Betting Terminals and (2) Electronic Gaming Machines, are located on Ministry of Defence property in (1) 2015, (2) 2016, (3) 2017, and (4) 2018; and who was the beneficiary of any such money.
Earl Howe: Gambling as an addiction has serious implications for Defence; as a security risk, financially, a mental health issue and as a wider welfare impact on Service personnel; families; veterans and their families. Gambling addiction is difficult to target and deal with effectively as most activity is carried out when Service personnel are off duty or at home. However, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) is working to raise financial awareness among Service personnel; all three Services provide links on their welfare sites to several financial advisory sites including MoneyForce, Joining Forces Credit Union, the Services Insurance and Investment Advisory Panel and GamCare, a national charity and leading provider of information, advice and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.
The MOD has not funded or conducted any research on problem gambling among Service personnel or veterans. We are aware that in 2017 the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) supported a gambling study by Swansea University, the preliminary findings of which suggested UK veterans may be at an increased risk of developing gambling problems than non-veterans. In 2018, FiMT awarded Swansea University £279,503 to undertake a survey to understand and explore the levels of gambling participation and attitudes to gambling in ex-Service personnel.
The requested information on the numbers of betting terminals and gaming machines on MOD property and the revenue generated and beneficiaries is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.