Social and economic costs of gambling problems and related harm among UK military veterans

October, 2021

This paper explores the economic and social costs of gambling among veterans by investigating differences in veteran use of healthcare and social services.


Military veterans are at heightened risk of problem gambling. Little is known about the costs of problem gambling and related harm among United Kingdom (UK) Armed Forces (AF) veterans. We investigated the social and economic costs of gambling among a large sample of veterans through differences in healthcare and social service resource use compared with agematched and gender matched non-veterans from the UK AF Veterans’ Health and Gambling Study. Veterans in our sample had higher healthcare, social service and societal costs and lower utility. Veterans had greater contacts with the criminal justice system, received more social service benefits, had more lost work hours and greater accrued debt. A cost difference of £590 (95% CI −£1016 to −£163) was evident between veterans with scores indicating problem gambling and those reporting no problems. Costs varied by problem gambling status. Our sample of UK AF veterans has higher healthcare, social service and societal costs than non-veterans. Veterans experiencing problem gambling are more costly but have no reduction in quality of life.

Full Reference

Harris S, Pockett RD, Dighton G, et al. BMJ Mil Health. Epub ahead of print. doi:10.1136/bmjmilitary-2021-001892.

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