CNBC Gambling in the Military Feature Taps Kindbridge’s David Yeager and Brianne Doura-Schawohl

Last year, Kindbridge Behavioral Health ran a feature on David Yeager, a military veteran of the United States Army who has battled gambling disorder (GD) for nearly two decades. Yeager developed a compulsion for the activity while stationed on a U.S. military base in the Republic of Korea. The public’s initial suspicion is that someone in Yeager’s situation may have developed a problematic relationship with gambling by venturing into the underbelly of southeast Asia (etc.) but this was not the case for Yeager, nor for thousands of other veterans and active servicepersons.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) operates more than 3,000 slot machines on overseas bases, which includes the largest of them all; South Korea’s U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys (or Camp Humphreys). In addition to slot machines the base is known for hosting casino nights and fostering a culture of gambling behavior among servicepersons. The provisioning of on-base gambling is about more than keeping personnel entertained, as the DoD generates over $100 million dollars of revenue each year from slot machine revenue. And unlike with domestic installations in the United States, slots on international bases reportedly do not carry Responsible Gaming advisories. This is concerning for a group that has a 3.5 times higher rate of GD than the general population.

Yeager’s gambling problem resulted in compromised mental and behavioral health, the end of a military career and marriage, and damaged his relationship with his children. Like others who struggle with GD, Yeager attempted suicide a total of four times. Fortunately, David’s story took a more positive turn, as through his journey of recovery he has created an editorial and podcast platform to share his experiences with GD as a veteran with others in his proverbial boots. More recently, Yeager has joined forces with Kindbridge Behavioral Health – America’s preeminent support platform for military veterans who struggle with problem gambling and cooccurring mental health concerns. He serves as an intake specialist and gambling recovery coach at Kindbridge, and has now stepped in as an Educational Program Developer at Kindbridge Research Institute’s new Military Gambling Awareness Committee.

David Yeager’s exposure recently caught the attention of CNBC, who published a feature (July 3, 2024) regarding growing concerns over gambling “addiction” in the military. CNBC talked to Yeager about his experiences (which Kindbridge has covered here) and addressed the aforementioned information regarding the DoD’s role in enabling the activity. The DoD declined an interview, but stated that servicepersons are screened for GD in their annual health physicals. They also told CNBC that personnel concerned about their relationship with gambling are encouraged to get screened, and won’t be penalized for doing so. Clearly, policy such as it is, is not enough to protect enlisted persons in a sustainable manner:

“But the policies around education and treatment are largely left up to individual commanders, and vary from base to base. Meanwhile, gambling has exploded.”


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) indicates that it is treating nearly as many patients for a pathological gambling diagnosis in the first half of 2024, as it had through all of 2022:

CNBC Gambling Military

The VA also reports that a growing proportion of referrals (20%) are women.

CNBC confirms that the fight against the military gambling problem is gaining some traction. For instance, they describe problem gambling awareness advocate Brianne Doura-Schawohl’s efforts to lobby the DoD for the implementation of GD education and treatment policies across the entire U.S. military. Brianne is a Board member at Kindbridge and uses her public affairs platform to spread awareness. Further, as we reported back in June of 2024, the program referenced the Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. filing of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit the military from operating slot machines on bases. Although, the amendment never made it into legislation.

CNBC concluded the feature with a harrowing warning from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that was delivered to the DoD back in 2017 before the legalization of sports betting across U.S. states:

“Undiagnosed, untreated gambling addiction poses a threat not only to service members’ individual readiness, it could also threaten national security.”

View CNBC’s feature with Kindbridge’s David Yeager in its entirety right here and follow our monthly Problem Gambling News report for more current discussions on the national mental health crisis.

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Members of the media and others are encouraged to reach out to Kindbridge for more information on the military gambling problem in the U.S. and what we’re doing to support our troops and veterans.

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


Email [email protected]

CNBC Gambling in the Military