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***Video***Surging Sports Betting— Blumenthal & Salinas Introduce Bicameral Bill to Combat Gambling Addiction, Promote Treatment

(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Andrea Salinas (OR-06) introduced the Gambling addiction Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act, legislation that would create the first-ever federal funding stream dedicated to helping prevent, treat, and study gambling addiction in the United States.

“The growing legalization of sports and online betting, paired with the ability to place bets from your phone whenever you want have created a perfect storm for gambling addiction,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “Dedicated federal resources to tackle problem gambling head-on will provide much-needed support, resources, and treatment for those suffering from gambling addiction. As the number of Americans who are suffering from gambling addiction surges, legislation like the GRIT Act is needed now more than ever."

“Gambling addictions are hurting countless families, children, and communities in Oregon and across America. Yet unlike alcohol and drug addictions, there are currently no federal funds devoted solely to helping stop problem gambling,” said Rep. Salinas. “Our legislation will deliver much-needed resources to states and nonprofits, promoting new research and ensuring more people can get into treatment and recovery. This is a commonsense solution and I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting it.”

Nearly 7 million Americans suffer from a gambling addiction, resulting in an annual social cost of $7 billion. However, many state health agencies and nonprofits that study and treat gambling addiction are severely underfunded. The GRIT Act would remedy this by designating existing federal funds toward gambling research and treatment.

Specifically, the GRIT Act would:

  • Set aside 50% of the federal sports excise tax revenue for gambling addiction treatment and research, 75% of which will be distributed to the states for gambling addiction prevention and treatment through the existing Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program. The remaining 25% will go to the National Institute of Drug Abuse to fund grants for research into gambling addiction.
  • Authorize spending for 10 years and require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness of the program within three years of passage.
  • Provide vital support to state health agencies and nonprofits left on their own to address gambling problems.
  • Allow investment in best practices and comprehensive research, which is only possible at the national level.

Importantly, the GRIT Act would not raise taxes or create more bureaucracy. The legislation would draw from existing federal excise tax revenue and operate within existing HHS programs and procedures.

In addition to Rep. Salinas and Sen. Blumenthal, the GRIT Act is supported by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG).

“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,” said Keith Whyte, Executive Director, National Council on Problem Gambling. “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.”

“Gambling related harm doesn’t recognize borders between cities and states. That is why this federal initiative to provide much needed funding for prevention, treatment, and research is so vital. In Connecticut we are very fortunate to have a robust set of programs aimed at helping those impacted by problem gambling and their families. This legislation will allow other states to be able to create similar programs to benefit their citizens,” said Diana Goode, Executive Director, Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling.

To read a one-page description of this legislation, click here.

To read the full text of this legislation, click here.

Video of Blumenthal’s press conference in Connecticut with the CCPG is available here.