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Congress Ready to Tackle Problem Gambling with ‘GRIT’

A group of US lawmakers are making history by authoring the first federal bill aimed at tackling problem gambling as a wave of US States embrace regulated sports betting. If passed into law, the Gambling Addiction Recovery, Investment, and Treatment Act (GRIT) would utilize revenue from an already existing .25 percent federal tax on operator’s handle. It’s a big move that acknowledges the growing impact regulated sports betting is having on daily life for Americans.

Sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Oregon) GRIT would immediately divert 50 percent of that federal excise tax on sports betting to treatments aimed at treating and preventing problem gambling. The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program and fund grants for the National Institute of Drug Abuse were mentioned as potential beneficiaries of the new tax, though other groups would likely qualify.

In comments reported on by SBC Americas, NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte explained the benefits of the proposed legislation saying, “The GRIT Act will help address the critical and often overlooked issue of gambling addiction, and I am grateful for the leadership of Senator Blumenthal and Representative Salinas in introducing the bill. The investment into gambling addiction research, prevention, and treatment is a necessary step to minimize gambling-related harm nationwide and reduce its impact on countless American families.”

It’s no surprise that lawmakers at the federal level would be interested in moving forward this kind of bill, it’s surprising that something like this hasn’t been introduced sooner. It’s unclear at this point, however, how much support Blumenthal and Salinas have for their, or whether it will move at all through the highly dysfunctional halls of the US Congress.