In an interview with UK national newspaper, The Guardian, US Congresswoman Andrea Salinas described the US’ “unchecked gambling boom” risks exacerbating a nationwide mental health crisis.
Congresswoman Salinas said that operators must be held accountable for rising addiction rates, after lawmakers proposed legislation that, if approved, would provide tens of millions of dollars in funding to help those affected.
Diverting taxes raised on sports wagers towards compulsive gambling support services “would make the entire industry healthier”, said the Oregon Democrat.
“But the access to these applications for sports betting has taken us in a direction that is harmful. Nearly seven million Americans are struggling with the gambling addiction.”
The proposed Grit (Gambling addiction Recovery, Investment & Treatment) Act calls for 50% of receipts from the now surging Federal Sports Excise Tax, originally introduced in the 1950’s, be set aside for gambling addiction treatment, prevention and research.
“If we let this go unchecked, this could be one of the sources of an escalating mental health crisis,” said Salinas.
Chris Cylke, SVP at the American Gaming Association (AGA), responded by saying: “Our industry’s growth means that there has never been more attention paid to, or money invested in, problem gambling support than there is today.
“Today, this antiquated policy puts the nascent legal market at a competitive disadvantage against offshore illegal operators, who do not pay any taxes and prey on vulnerable customers.”