Advocating for GRIT: NCPG’s Vision for Federal Funding to Tackle Gambling Addiction
The National Council on Problem Gambling has long believed that anyone who profits from gambling has an ethical and economic obligation to utilize some of those profits to mitigate the harm created by legalized gambling. It is estimated that there are currently 7 million American adults suffering from gambling addiction, resulting in a national social cost of $7 billion annually. Yet, despite the prevalence of gambling addiction in the United States, no federal agency is tasked with addressing it, and no federal funds are designated for gambling addiction treatment or research.
On January 11, 2024, U.S. Representative Andrea Salinas and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal took a critical step to combat problem gambling by introducing the Gambling addiction Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act. This transformative bill seeks to establish the first dedicated stream of federal funding for gambling addiction treatment, prevention, and research.
The GRIT Act would utilize 50% of the revenue from the federal excise tax on sports wagers to establish a dedicated funding stream for gambling addiction treatment and research. The bill would authorize spending for ten years and require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report to Congress on the program’s effectiveness within three years of passage.
The proposed allocation plan is both strategic and comprehensive. Three-quarters of the funds received by HHS would be distributed to states for gambling addiction treatment and prevention initiatives through the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program. The remaining one-quarter would go to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to fund grants specifically for gambling-related research. This two-pronged approach aims to provide immediate support to those in need while simultaneously advancing what is known about gambling addiction through research.
The GRIT Act represents a landmark opportunity to address gambling addiction comprehensively. It acknowledges the challenges faced by state health agencies and nonprofits in addressing gambling problems and emphasizes the federal government’s duty to minimize gambling-related harm as it utilizes gambling as a source of income.
Monumental change, like the passage of the GRIT Act, will not occur overnight. The support of advocates, stakeholders, and NCPG members will be crucial to advancing the conversation, building support, and ultimately seeing this vital legislation come to fruition. As the bill progresses, NCPG will offer opportunities to take part in grassroots mobilization efforts, including Problem Gambling Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, on May 23, 2024.
We are currently gathering a list of organizations and individuals that support the Gambling addiction Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act; affirm your support for the GRIT Act by adding your name.
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