The UK House of Lords has instructed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to remove gambling machines from all military bases as part of the review of the Armed Forces Bill.
Peers in the Lord are continuing the review of amendments that aims to update the Armed Forces Act of 2006, which will expire at the end of 2021.
Though the government wishes to extend the 2006 Act’s legislative authority for a further five years, the House of Lords must explore new amendments that seek to be imposed on the Armed Forces.
This week, the House of Lords Select Committee backed an amendment by Alan Smith, the Lord Bishop of St Albans, to improve data on members of the forces accessing treatment for alcohol, drug and gambling disorders in the Armed Forces Covenant annual report.
The Lord Bishop commented to the House: “I am concerned that the Ministry of Defence is not taking gambling-related harm in the military community sufficiently seriously.”
“On two occasions in response to my concerns in this area, the Ministry of Defence has stated that it has seen no evidence, or does not hold information, suggesting that serving personnel are more prone to problem gambling than any other group in society.”
The Lord Bishop underlined his concern, pointing to research undertaken by the charity, Forces in Mind Trust, and the University of Swansea that found “veterans were ten times more likely to experience harm than non-veterans”.
The MoD admitted to Lords that it did not collate specific statistics on levels of gambling among service personnel. However, the department has changed its classification on data collection to include gambling-related harms under mental health and addiction research.