A grant of £39,478 has been awarded to Swansea University for the very first evaluation of gambling-related problems among UK veterans which will also compare the findings against non-veterans from the general population…

The temptation to gamble while serving in the Armed Forces is widely reported, with many veterans noting that factors such as time spent in solitary accommodation, and living from one pay cheque to the next, can compound the risk of vulnerable individuals developing a gambling addiction.

At present, there are only anecdotal reports of the struggles faced by UK veterans in dealing with a gambling problem; the true nature and extent of the problem remains unknown. This six-month study seeks to fill the evidence gap by comparing the prevalence of gambling-related problems in veterans serving since the mid-1960s with non-veterans, as well as assessing the potential relationships between gambling-related problems and length of active service, alcohol use and trauma (both during and after deployment). Finding answers to these questions will, for the first time, cast light on the true scale of gambling behaviour among UK veterans.

The research project is led by Dr Simon Dymond, Reader in Psychology at Swansea University, and will be conducted using an existing dataset, the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, which is a survey of thousands of community-dwelling adults in England containing a series of questions related to gambling behaviour. The study will also help inform factors that should be included in future health surveys of the UK population.

Dr Dymond said: “Compared with other countries, we actually know very little about the types of gambling-related problems confronted by our Armed Forces veterans.

Assessing prevalence among UK veterans is therefore an essential first step in this regard. Indeed, getting a better idea of who is and is not at risk of developing a gambling problem is also important as we seek to improve treatment of this significant public health issue.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), said: “Very little is known about the nature and scale of problem gambling among UK veterans. Indeed, and despite frequent popular assertion, there might even be no significant differences from gambling within the general population. This study promises an important insight into the factors that may be associated with, or exacerbate, such behaviour in order to identify who may be most susceptible and under what circumstances.

"Such evidence can then be used by policy makers and service deliverers to help identify suitable and timely treatment interventions that ultimately will aid any ex-Service personnel suffering from such issues in their transition to civilian life.”