(Bloomberg) -- Ukrainian authorities will seek ways to curb gambling addiction among troops as concerns mount that the gaming activity saps morale and poses a security risk. 

A petition filed by a Ukrainian serviceman pointed to the dangers of troops — often whiling away long hours outside of combat — spending chunks of their monthly wage on online gambling platforms on the mobile phones. Military personnel on the front can earn some 100,000 hryvnia ($2,500) per month, five times the average salary in Ukraine. 

The document, filed by a serviceman identifying himself as Pavlo Petrychenko of the 59th brigade, paints a portrait of Ukrainian soldiers spending their earnings on gambling, taking out loans to cover debt — and at times pawning military equipment, such as drones and thermal cameras, to meet payments. 

“For many of them, gambling is becoming the only way to deal with stress, quickly causing dopamine addiction and eroding self-discipline,” Petrychenko wrote in the petition, which collected the required 25,000 signatures to be considered.

The petition also cited the risk of Russian online casino operators targeting customers with advertisements designed to secure access to private data from military personnel as well as civilians. Indebted soldiers are a ripe target for manipulation campaigns conducted by Russian intelligence, the petition said.  

Gambling Crackdown

Ukrainian forces have grappled with a shortage of badly needed ammunition and manpower as the balance in the two-year war has shifted to Russia, whose military is battering Ukrainian positions in the east and preparing for a potentially broader offensive. 

As troops await help — a $60 billion US package may finally win approval in Congress, while Zelenskiy signed a controversial bill lowering the conscription age to 25 — the petition highlights an issue confronting soldiers, many of whom are entrenched in front lines that have barely shifted for most of the war. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the petition, saying he met with top security officials to discuss front-line gambling issue. 

“We are preparing the appropriate steps, which will add necessary control over the industry and will help safeguard the interests of society properly,” Zelenskiy said late Tuesday in his regular televised address. He didn’t elaborate on what measures the government was considering.  

A Ukrainian lawmaker, Yaroslav Zheleznyak, said a parliamentary committee would meet Thursday to discuss draft legislation imposing stricter controls over the gambling industry, including outlining consequences for illicit advertising. 

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