In a bid to address the growing issue of gambling addiction in the United States, Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Andrea Salinas have put forward a proposal known as the Gambling Addiction, Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act. This proposal aims to allocate additional funds towards the treatment and prevention of gambling-related disorders. The GRIT Act builds upon the existing federal excise tax, which currently imposes a 0.0025% tax on every sports wager made across the country.
The rapid expansion of sports betting has resulted in record federal excise tax proceeds, exceeding $270 million for 2023. Under the GRIT Act, 50% of the revenue generated from the federal sports betting excise tax would be directed towards addressing gambling harm. Specifically, 25% would fund research efforts, while the remaining 75% would be dedicated to treating problem gambling.
In an interview with The Guardian, Rep. Salinas stressed the crucial role of the GRIT Act in providing essential funding for gambling addiction treatment and prevention. She emphasized the increasing profits of sports betting operators and the necessity for comprehensive treatment measures to prevent a potential nationwide mental health crisis related to gambling.
Salinas noted that while gambling can be enjoyable in moderation, the widespread availability of betting applications has led to an alarming rise in gambling addiction, affecting nearly 7 million Americans.
Derek Webb, the founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, a safer gaming lobbying group, voiced his support for the GRIT Act, describing it as the “best chance to save lots of lives” through responsible and fair measures.
However, not everyone is in agreement with the GRIT Act. The American Gaming Association (AGA), the industry body representing the US casino industry, has rejected the proposal. Chris Cylke, AGA’s senior vice president of government relations, criticized the federal excise tax as outdated and argued that it gives an advantage to the illegal gambling sector.
The introduction of the GRIT Act reflects the ongoing debate surrounding the treatment and prevention of gambling harm. Supporters believe it provides a necessary solution to address the negative impact of gambling addiction, while opponents argue that alternative approaches are needed to address the evolving landscape of sports betting.