The Armed Forces have been instructed to remove all gambling machines from military bases, following a recommendation supported by the House of Lords reviewing the Armed Forces Bill.
The House of Lords continues its review of amendments that aim 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 is required to examine new amendments that seek to be imposed on the Armed Forces.
Of significance, the House of Lords is reviewing whether public bodies can scrutinise the Covenant of the Armed Forces in relation to education, housing and healthcare
Yesterday, the House of Lords Select Committee backed an amendment by Alan Smith, the Lord Bishop of St Albans, to improve data on army personnel accessing treatment for alcohol, drug and gambling disorders in the Armed Forces Covenant annual report.
The Lord Bishop informed – “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 dismissed the MoD’s response, pointing to research undertaken by Charity Forces in Mind Trust and the University of Swansea that cited that “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 revised its official statistics to include gambling addiction under mental health and addiction related research.
Supporting amendments, Lord Foster of Bath stated that he had secured a MoD guarantee that gambling machines would be removed from all bases – “a commitment which is yet to be completed.”