A positive move
A new proposal in Congress aims to create a federal funding framework for gambling addiction services in the US. Oregon Representative Andrea Salinas and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced the Gambling Addiction Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act on Thursday.
half of the current federal sports excise tax revenue
The GRIT Act would direct half of federal sports excise tax revenue to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help with the research and treatment of problematic gambling. 75% of these funds would focus on treatment and prevention through the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program. The rest of the money would go towards research grants.
Passage of the GRIT Act would create a ten-year spending model, with a review of the effectiveness of the program to take place within three years. The GRIT Act wouldn’t require higher taxes due to the utilization of existing federal excise tax revenue. It also would not add any additional bureaucracy because of the use of existing HHS procedures and programs.
The federal government gets 0.25% of each sports bet, adding up to nearly $235m in 2022.
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) welcomed the introduction of the GRIT Act. The organization’s Board of Directors President Susan Sheridan Tucker believes it is long overdue and said that the NCPG recognizes the “potential to make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and families across the nation.”
Badly needed funds
No federal funding currently goes towards research or treatment services dedicated to problem gambling. This is despite the NCPG’s studies that estimate the yearly social cost of this form of addiction at $7bn, which includes healthcare and criminal justice expenses, as well as bankruptcies and job losses. Approximately seven million adult Americans suffer from gambling addiction.
The NCPG does a lot to help battle against rising addiction numbers, including running a national helpline, organizing a problem gambling awareness month, and hosting an annual conference on the topic.
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