Casinos Near Military Bases: Too Close for Comfort

There is a military casino connection with U.S. military bases that active personnel and stakeholders should be concerned about. This connection places the mental and behavioral health of those in-service at risk, and may consequently reverberate into the duties that impacted personnel may be involved with. Below is a succinct breakdown of the concern regarding military base proximity to land-based gambling venues along with a critical call to action.

How Military Base Access to Gambling Establishments is Putting U.S. Soldiers at Risk of Problem Gambling

I. More Vulnerable to Developing Gambling Disorder

Military Casino

Before we get into information about how U.S. military personnel have excessively easy access to land-based casinos, we must first address the vulnerability that they face. Recent research revealed that the rate of problem gambling among active duty military was 3.5 times higher than among civilians, or nearly 60% compared with almost 19%. Moreover, servicepersons are also more likely to experience co-occurring conditions such as anxiety and depression along with PTSD which adds another layer of mental health concern. View more on how gambling disorder is a growing problem in the U.S. military.

II. Actively Searching for Casinos Near Bases

The volume of demand coming from military installations for land-based casinos is not a speculative one. Data regarding online requests for this information is readily available via Google’s keyword research tool among a variety of other software applications.

If military personnel are more vulnerable to problematic behavior, the fact that they are searching for gambling establishments near their bases should be alarming. Let’s take a glance at the current (June 2023) online search volume coming directly from the largest U.S. military installation in America – Fort Bragg (now known as Fort Liberty) in North Carolina:

Military Casino Casinos

Source: Google Keyword Research Tool

The above data is a mere snippet of the search volume occurring for land-based casinos near Fort Bragg/Liberty. At press, the population of the base consists of 43,414 Active-Duty Soldiers, 1,648 Reserve Component, 1,927 Temporary Duty Students and Trainees Military, 27,005 Army retirees, and 62,962 and Active-duty family members. In addition to the above search expressions, this small pocket of population is typing the following into their search browsers each month:

  • slots near me (10-100 searches per month)
  • slot machines near me (10-100)
  • closest casino to me (10-100)
  • casino near me now (10-100)
  • open casino near me (10-100)
  • nearest casino to my location (10-100)
  • indian casino near me (10-100)
  • gambling near me (10-100)
  • poker tournaments near me (10-100)
  • Etc.

The list of searches for land-based gambling near Fort Bragg goes on and on. In fact, Google’s Keyword Research Tool returns a total of 1,018 other land-based casino related search expressions from Fort Bragg/Liberty NC. Given that each individual expression is searched up to 100 times per month, it becomes clear that the demand is very large. Furthermore, the same pattern of online search behavior and respective volume is found with the 5 largest U.S. military bases in America, and proportionately so for other U.S. military bases.

III. Casinos Positioned Near U.S. Military Bases

The economics of demand and supply appear evident near major military bases in the USA. Land-based casinos are within near proximity to the 5 largest U.S. military installations in America:

Fort Liberty (formerly known as Fort Bragg) NC

There are two land-based casinos located in a 2-hour drive from Fort Liberty. Gaining access to brick and mortar gambling venues is about to get even easier for those living at Fort Liberty, as on June 15th (2023) it was announced that North Carolina will now allow in-state sports betting. Military personnel aged 21 or older will be able to make cash bets on sports at eight potential in-person betting locales associated with stadiums, arenas, golf courses and racetracks.

Fort Campbell KY

There are at least two land-based casinos located in a 10-minute drive or 1-hour walk from Fort Campbell.

Fort Hood TX

There is one land-based casino located in a 10-15 drive from Fort Hood and many more in a 1-hour+ drive.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord WA

There are nearly a dozen land-based casinos near Joint Base Lewis-McChord WA, with the nearest located in a 15-20 drive.

Fort Moore (formerly known as Fort Benning) GA

There is one land-based casino located in over 1-hour drive from Fort Moore.

IV. U.S. DoD Operates Thousands of Slot Machines on U.S. Bases

The above proximities are problematic, although we are not implying that construction of gambling venues near bases was intentional on the part of casino operators. However, it can be said the the US Department of Defense (DoD) is directly enabling military casino gaming. The DoD operate over 3,000 slot machines on overseas bases that produce over $100 million dollars of revenue each year. Even more concerning, is that a recent review of the responsible gambling policies mandated by states and the DoD by KRI placed the DoD worst out of the 36 jurisdictions with legal slot machine gambling. A recent review has concluded that of the responsible gambling policies mandated by U.S. states, the DoD has ranked worst out of 36 jurisdictions with legal slot machine gambling. The DoD requires only 1 of the 10 responsible gambling policies recommended by the American Gaming Association.

What Needs to be Done

Active and veteran military urgently need better access to problem gambling support services. There must be a greater investment at a Federal and State level, and from the DoD, to provide the military direct channels to effective counseling and therapy for gambling disorder from experts who specialize the problem gambling treatment for this distinct segment of the U.S. population. Kindbridge Behavioral Health (KBH) together with the Kindbride Research Institute (KRI) is leading the charge in this capacity. In addition to its Veteran Recovery Program, KRI is currently running a statewide Military Problem Gambling Research, Education, & Recovery Program in Colorado which will serve as a model for other U.S. states to fall in line with. Meanwhile, KBH continues to develop an stockpile of informational resources (such as this article) where active military, veterans, and their loved ones can learn more about the military casino and gambling connection.

The good news for concerned members of the military and their loved ones, is that they (you?) don’t have to wait to get help for problem gambling. Kindbridge counselors who work specifically with active and veteran military are online and ready to receive you today. Begin the healing process with the tap of a button.

U.S. Military Problem Gambling Helpline

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


Email [email protected]

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