What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless you’re a Pentagon employee using a government credit card to gamble and hire prostitutes.
On Wednesday, Politico reported that a Defense Department audit had flagged numerous instances of civilian and military personnel using government credit cards to gamble in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The audit also found charges related to “other adult activities” but, sadly, a Pentagon official declined to offer specifics.
The Pentagon is attempting to keep the outrage machine in low gear by pointing out that John Q. Taxpayer isn’t necessarily on the hook for this debauchery on the government dime. Government-issued credit cards require staffers to pay the bills themselves and then file for reimbursement. The Pentagon theorized that many of the offending personnel might have used the gov’t cards to keep the charges from appearing on their personal credit card statement.
The audit isn’t expected to produce a list of names for public shaming but the individuals who engaged in this petty subterfuge will get a stern talking-to. Their respective agencies will also remind staff of the illegality of certain credit card activities and the pitfalls of bad public relations.
The prostitution angle is likely to inflame more public kvetching than the gambling, coming as it does so shortly after news broke of DEA agents throwing sex parties in Colombia. (In the DEA’s defense, they were only following the trail blazed a few years back by the Secret Service.)
Besides, sex freaks people out in a way that gambling just can’t pull off. New research from online protection firm ESET found that porn was the number one dark scary corner of the internet that UK parents didn’t want their kids stumbling across.
Some 60% of parents admitted that they feared their kids would end up watching people doing it. Significantly fewer parents feared gambling sites (47%) and terrorist sites (40%). That’s right. Poker games are officially more terrifying than beheadings, but neither inspires more terror than digital genitalia. At this point, gambling’s only hope of dethroning the champ is if live dealers can be convinced to deal cards from a horizontal position.