British Army Considering Banning Slots at Bases

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering banning slot machines on army bases due to concerns about serving soldiers.

Slots have become the dominant form of gambling in many countries due to their simple play and quick results. But it appears that slot machines are proving too addictive for some soldiers, which has earned these games the nickname the “crack cocaine of gambling.”

The Express reports that British Army officers have raised concerns about slot machines, even calling it “ridiculous” that slots are found in army barracks in the first place. Compounding the problem is that slot machines are often placed near barracks’ ATMs, which only fuels more play from soldiers.

Another dimension to this story is that those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are more likely to become addicted to slots. One officer saw a soldier with PTSD blow “hundreds of pounds” in a single session.

“The Army is always making a big deal about ‘duty of care’ to its soldiers,” said staff sergeant Mike Owens. “Why then do slot machines feature prominently in so many communal areas?”

The sergeant added, “There are a total of seven in the hub at Swinton Barracks in Tidworth – all very helpfully located within easy reach of a cash point – and I imagine the story is the same at many other locations. We’re regularly reminded about the perils of drinking and smoking but it seems gambling is not only acceptable but actively facilitated.”

Owens isn’t the only one who’s seen fellow soldiers pouring money into slot machines. Another soldier, who’s been in the British army for 20 years, commented on the addiction that he’s seen.

“I have witnessed personnel and civilian workers alike piling huge amounts of money into these so-called entertainment facilities,” the anonymous solider said. “Who actually monitors these machines anyway? You never see officers in these areas so perhaps the official doctrine on running gaming machines actually differs from the truth.”

Unlike many gambling addicts, who can seek treatment for their problem, slots-addicted soldiers are sometimes deployed away from home and don’t get the support they need.

But until the Ministry of Defence takes action, it doesn’t look like slot machines are going anywhere right now. Many senior army officials even support slots, given that they believe the machines are closely monitored and regulated.

“The hub at Swinton Barracks is intended to be an environment that resembles similar commercial venues outside the wire where soldiers can relax, unwind and enjoy themselves,” said Lt. Col. Charlie Battery. “This includes the presence of games machines, television and a bar. Every effort is made to ensure the former are used in moderation.”