In a recent development, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative Andrea Salinas have jointly introduced the Gambling Addiction, Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act. The act proposes the allocation of a portion of the federal excise tax proceeds from sports betting towards the treatment and prevention of gambling-related disorders.
The federal excise tax, which amounts to 0.0025% on every sports wager across the country, has resulted in record proceeds exceeding $270 million for 2023. The GRIT Act seeks to divert 50% of this revenue to combat gambling harm, with 25% allocated towards research and 75% towards treating problem gambling.
In an interview with The Guardian, Salinas emphasized the significance of the GRIT Act, stating that it would provide essential funding for treating gambling addiction and prevention. She pointed out the increasing profits of sports betting operators and highlighted the importance of the proposal in preventing a nationwide mental health crisis related to betting.
Salinas also noted that while gambling can be enjoyable in moderation, the easy access to betting applications has pushed many individuals into gambling addiction, with nearly 7 million Americans struggling with it.
Derek Webb, the founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, a safer gaming lobbying group, expressed support for the GRIT Act, calling it the “best chance to save lots of lives” and emphasizing the responsible and fair approach it takes towards addressing gambling harm.
However, not everyone is on board with the proposal. The American Gaming Association (AGA), which represents the US casino industry, rejected the GRIT Act, with senior vice president of government relations Chris Cylke criticizing the federal excise tax as “antiquated” and claiming that it gives an advantage to the illegal gambling sector.
The introduction of the GRIT Act has sparked a debate about the best approach to addressing gambling harm and addiction, with proponents emphasizing the need for additional funding and opponents raising concerns about the impact on the industry. The proposal remains a topic of contention as stakeholders continue to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of its implementation.