Poker, the most popular US card game associated with gambling dates back to the Paleolithic period in Mesopotamia. Many centuries later, the Greek soldiers used to amuse themselves with dice games when they were away from Greece as gambling was illegal there. The first gambling house appeared in the 17th century in Italy.

Online casinos are not completely legal in the US and often have to be situated outside the US jurisdiction. The overseas US military bases are one of these places. The military authorities seem to have turned a deaf ear towards this issue that affects the soldiers who regularly face unwarranted risks.

This puts them in a highly vulnerable position to adopt gambling problems and being unable to get rid of it as its proclamation would lead them to be dishonorably discharged.

Military Gambling business

Yearly, $2 billion flows through the slot machines present on the overseas bases and out of jackpots. These figures often spike at the onset of war predicament and even wartime. Only 6% of the earnings remain in the house while the rest goes to the pockets of these machines.

The other source of gambling entertainment often accessed by the soldiers is Bingo. It is run by the Department of Defense and studies show that it was doing a $45 million business in 2005. These figures are staggeringly high.

The relationship of the army with gambling needs to accessed and it is important that the army remain consistent with its own rules as they have been slacking off when it comes to gambling on the US overseas military bases.  The gambling activity within army barracks ought to be regulated if not demolished altogether.

Access to Gambling for military soldiers

With the growing use of internet technologies, activities like gambling are pretty widespread. Even in US military bases, where one might expect tight restrictions. So, the military boys who often have to remain idle in barracks and military bases while waiting for orders tend to indulge in the activity of gambling to pass time and for a short while pretend to be in a civilian setting.

The junior ranks have access to the slotting machines which makes it very easy for them to place bets and play online games that require gambling. Besides the machines, mobile, and online gambling has also become popular. The spirit of forming brotherhood connections leads to betting in regular card games to pass time in barracks.

Hence, from the above-mentioned facts, it can be concluded that the naval, air and army forces have clearly indulged in all forms of gambling. This prevalent problem has been waxed over by the military officials every time it has been questioned.

The legality of Gambling on the Military Bases

While it is clearly stated in military documents that gambling is prohibited for militants on duty, what is the reason behind its widespread indulgence? It seriously brings into question the allowance and presence of slot machines on the bases. Gambling is a serious offense and has been banned on the government-owned and government leased property. Military bases clearly come under these categories.

Slot machines and the military standing on their allowance

Slot machines have been present on military bases since the 1930s. This changed when they were removed from the army and air force bases but left in many Navy bases in 1972. The former fact was later changed in the 1980s when the slotting machines made a comeback.

The action of reinstalling the machines comes with the military s that it helps them in a recreational way and the money goes to recreational projects dedicated to them in the form of swimming pools and military theatres. What they forget is the negativity these slot machines bring. The risk-taking personalities of these soldiers make them vulnerable and prone to adopt gambling problems and affect mental health.

The chief operating officer of the Army’s community and family support center stated that they do not run the slot machines for mere profit. Their soldiers demand access to games and recreational activities available to the civilians they lay down their lives for.

They pressed upon the military’s passiveness when it came to gambling opportunities provided to their soldiers while running the largest slot machine program. Their stance remained that the majority of the troops sue these machines responsibly and the fear of vulnerability to adopt the gambling problem of a few should not be stressed upon.

The other reasoning is that they cannot risk the withdrawal effects of the army gamblers if and when all machines were to be removed.  The soldiers would go off to deal in backroom poker games and the army doesn’t want that, which clearly reinforces that gambling problems do exist in the military circles. The chief operating officer of the Army’s community and family support center stated that they do not run the slot machines for mere profit.



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  1. Not sure what it is now, but in the early 80’s, it was not uncommon for an E-2 or 3 to spend 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for a couple weeks straight, on a 130 degree flight line for about 350 take home every 2 weeks.
    And yes, income tax is taken out of active duty soldiers pay,. so yea, we gambled with Our pay and it was often the only fun thing to do. I think I would be more comfortable if the slot machines were mandated to break even if they are installed on a base.

  2. The wages of soldiers are viewed as an exploitable resource. How much does a port make when a carrier lands for 5 days ? It is the same as carnival cruise lines.
    A superior lost 90 dollars to me flipping quarters in 5 dollar increments, and refused to pay. He had about 4 more stripes than I did, so I challenged him to a public wrestling match for double or nothing with approval from the msgt. 20 people showed up on a Saturday to watch me grind his head into the grass. It was very gratifying, but he refused to pay. I puked from exertion, and he walked away with grass stains on his head, and there was no more gambling. At least not at that building. Techsgt Allen (no relation to the author) from 23rd supply owes me 180 dollars !

    • I did not beat him with physical dominance. He was more than twice my size, and 3 times my strength. He barely fit through a standard doorway. He was actually the largest man I saw on the entire base. Thus the spectacle. Our dining hall won best in the AF 4 years in a row or something like that.

  3. What are the three vices of man which have been going on since the beginning of time but usually have been prohibited by government? Gambling, drugs and prostitution. We even had a Constitutional Amendment against intoxicating liquors but after all H broke loose we reversed course! As bad as anyone may claim these vices to be, they are much much worse going on illegally than legally and regulated. All must be legalized and regulated today! Let’s end the hypocrisy of fool man.

    • Read the 2005 LA Times Op Ed: “Let Those Dopers Be” by former 34 year Police Chief and Veteran Norm Stamper. Ditto for gambling and prostitution.

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