Sports betting and online gaming is on the rise. If you hold a security clearance, you may be wondering if an online gaming hobby or addiction could result in security clearance denial or revocation. Unlike other issues, like misuse of IT systems, sexual behavior, or alcohol abuse, gambling isn’t a separate adjudicative guideline. But that doesn’t mean to can’t cause serious clearance concerns. When it comes to gambling – whether online in a gaming facility – it’s not the activity, but the intent that matters.

“It’s not so much the gambling itself, its what it infers about the person’s personality and their vulnerability to bribery, exploitation,” said security clearance attorney Sean Bigley. He noted that when issues of gambling come into the clearance process, it’s not related to a weekend in Vegas or the weekly lottery ticket purchase.

“It’s where they’re dropping huge sums of money. It’s not a few hundred or even a few thousand,” he emphasized.

The issue comes with both aspects of addiction, and recklessness. Even when an individual makes large sums of money, betting large sums of money can be seen as behavior that opens one up to the potential for blackmail if suddenly luck runs out and the funds slip away. And while a security clearance holder may think it’s none of the government’s business, there are ways the government may discover that a security clearance holder is becoming a big player.

“The casinos are required to file what are SARS, suspicious activity reports, when someone is dropping huge sums of cash,” said Bigley. “You’ve got to be able to show where that money is coming from. The person needs to document where that money came from and that it was from a legitimate source.”

Steps Clearance Holders Should Take

Any time you’ve made significant income – whether it’s via gambling, a windfall from a relative, or another source – it’s important to properly report it. And if gambling becomes an issue, don’t be afraid to seek proactive steps to address it.

“We’ve seen a lot of people who worry. ‘I don’t want to go and seek mental health treatment or treatment for this addiction because as soon as I do that I’m going to lose my security clearance. The opposite is actually true. The government is going to find out about this. If it’s to the point of an addiction there is going to be a paper trail most likely that the government will see – suspicious activity reports. It’s better to get out ahead of it, go get the treatment that you need rather than have the government raise it as an issue and then be scrambling to address it because there’s not enough time to do it.”


This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Although the information is believed to be accurate as of the publication date, no guarantee or warranty is offered or implied. Laws and government policies are subject to change, and the information provided herein may not provide a complete or current analysis of the topic or other pertinent considerations. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 


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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer