Gambling and military Service: Characteristics, comorbidity, and problem severity in an epidemiological sample

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Active military members and veterans both show elevated risk of Gambling Disorder. However, research comparing these groups to civilians in epidemiological samples is sparse. There is also some research suggesting that there is a stronger association between military service and poor mental outcomes for women. The current study applies bivariate analyses and generalized linear modelling predicting Problem Gambling Severity Index scores to a representative, complex survey sample of 2176 New Jersey adult residents. The results show that problem gambling scores for past and current military service members were more than double that of the civilian participants after controlling for relevant demographic and behavioral characteristics. Additionally, the relationship between problem gambling scores and military service was significantly stronger for women than men. Bivariate analyses indicated that active military service members scored higher on the Problem Gambling Severity Index, indicated greater weekly participation in online gambling, lottery, electronic gambling machine, and sports betting, and nearly 20 times the rate of suicidal ideation compared with civilians. Additional regression analysis show that among military service members problem gambling scores were associated with suicidal ideation, tobacco use, and substance use problems. The results are discussed in the context of a period of expansion of online gambling opportunities. Constrained options for leisure coupled with the high propensity for risk taking among military service members and the relative ease of concealing online gambling on base may expose military service members to disproportionately higher risk of Gambling Disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106725
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Epidemiology
  • Gambling
  • Gender
  • Military
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Veterans


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