Proposed Legislative Changes to Enhance Service Member Welfare

A member of the U.S. Congress has taken a significant step by proposing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), aiming to eliminate slot machines from military bases. The initiative, led by Rep. Paul Tonko from New York’s 20th district, targets the reduction of gambling addiction risks among military personnel.

Rationale Behind the Amendment

Rep. Tonko, in his engagement with, expressed a deep concern about the rising tide of gambling problems within the military community. His amendment, one of over 1,300 being considered, is designed to curb the availability of slot machines on bases, thus prioritizing the mental and financial health of service members.

Historical Context and Financial Implications

Slot machines were reintroduced to overseas military bases in the 1970s as a strategy to keep service members from engaging in gambling activities outside the base. Despite generating more than $100 million annually from over 3,000 machines across 12 countries, these installations have raised concerns regarding their impact on the service members’ financial security and morale.

Studies Indicate Increased Risk Among Military Personnel

Research from Rutgers University suggests that individuals in active service and veterans are notably more prone to gambling issues than civilians. This finding led Congress to require that gambling disorder questions be included in annual health screenings for military personnel. Reports following these screenings confirmed the high prevalence of gambling disorders, underscoring the need for decisive legislative action.

Comprehensive Measures Against Gambling Addiction

Beyond his NDAA amendment, Rep. Tonko is advocating for broader legislation to address gambling addiction. His efforts include the regulation of online sports betting and the implementation of robust measures to protect those at risk from the detrimental effects of excessive gambling.

Conclusion: A Call to Action for Service Member Protection

As discussions continue, Rep. Tonko’s initiative highlights a crucial aspect of military welfare—protecting service members from gambling-related harm. His amendment not only reflects an understanding of the unique challenges faced by military personnel but also a commitment to creating a supportive and safe environment for those who dedicate their lives to national service.


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