The GRIT Act proposes federal funding for gambling addiction

US Capitol

The GRIT Act, introduced in Congress on Thursday, aims to provide federal funding for research and treatment of gambling addiction. [Image:]

A positive step

A new proposal in Congress aims to create a federal funding framework for gambling addiction services in the United States. 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 revenue from the federal sports tax

The GRIT Act would direct half of federal sports excise tax revenue to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help research and treat problem gambling. Seventy-five percent 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 toward research grants.

Long overdue

Passage of the GRIT Act would create a 10-year spending model, with the effectiveness of the program to be reviewed within three years. The GRIT Act would not require higher taxes due to the use of existing federal excise tax revenues. It also would not impose additional bureaucratic burdens due to the use of existing HHS procedures and programs.

The federal government receives 0.25% of every sports bet, totaling nearly $235 million in 2022.

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) welcomed the introduction of the GRIT law. The organization’s chief executive, Susan Sheridan Tucker, believes this is long overdue and said the NCPG recognizes the “potential to make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and families across the country.”

Urgently needed funds

Currently, no federal funding goes toward research or treatment services that address problem gambling. This is despite NCPG studies estimating the annual societal cost of this form of addiction at $7 billion, including health care and criminal justice expenses as well as bankruptcies and job losses. Approximately seven million American adults suffer from gambling addiction.

The NCPG does much to combat rising addiction rates, including establishing a national hotline, organizing a problem gambling awareness month, and hosting an annual conference on the topic.


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