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Gambling threatens national security, new book warns

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. A two-decade surge of legalized gambling is chipping away at U.S. security and military readiness, not just the bank accounts of bettors, a comprehensive new collection of research on the hazards of gambling warns.

Casinos drain money from consumer products and services, weakening the economic engine that ultimately drives defense spending, according to the latest volume in the three-part United States International Gambling Report Series.

"We cannot maintain a strong military presence with a weak economy," said University of Illinois professor John W. Kindt, a national gambling critic and contributing author and editor of the series. "Widespread gambling gambles with our national security by dragging down our national economic security."

Gambling siphons money from the traditional consumer economy, where an economic "multiplier effect" triples the value of every dollar spent by creating jobs that supply goods and services, according to research compiled in the first academic collection examining gambling and its costs to society.

Russia cited the national security and military consequences of an economy weakened by gambling when it closed 2,230 casinos in 2006-07, virtually abolishing legal gambling in the former Soviet republic.

"The social costs of gambling are high, but the overriding strategic issue has always been the military and national security implications of economies that get weaker and weaker because of gambling," said Kindt, a professor of business and public policy.

The latest volume in the nearly 3,000-page series "Gambling With National Security, Terrorism and Military Readiness" also includes research that says gambling provides a haven that both fuels and finances terrorism.

"We're seeing all kinds of really outrageous examples of people averse to our interests who are using gambling to their advantage and our detriment, such as laundering money through casinos around the world," Kindt said.

Gambling addiction also is increasing among U.S. military personnel, hampering readiness, according to the series, which includes decades of academic and government research on the financial perils of gambling.

The vast collection, which renews calls to outlaw gambling, was compiled by the Research Editors Doctoral Directorate on Gambling, a loosely knit group of doctoral researchers that was initially based at the U. of I.

"Gambling: Executive Summaries and Recommendations" launched the three-volume series, which will be capped by the soon-to-be-released "Gambling With Crime, Destabilized Economies and Financial Systems." The publisher is William S. Hein & Co., based in Buffalo, N.Y.

Global expansion of gambling got its roots in 1988, when the U.S. approved the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which established the first federal framework to regulate gaming, research in the series shows.

The move wrongly signaled that gambling promoted economic development, and countries around the world soon began lifting bans on gambling and emulating U.S. gaming technology, according to the series.

"Gambling actually destabilizes and corrupts governmental and financial systems, and legalized gambling poses significant threats to the national security of the United States and its allies," Kindt said.


Contact: Jan Dennis
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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