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Building a National Gambling Addiction Safety Net in the US

by Keith S. Whyte, Executive Director, National Council on Problem Gambling

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One of the biggest challenges for operators and vendors in the US gambling market is the lack of funding for a national safety net. This means that the availability of problem gambling prevention and treatment services varies greatly across American jurisdictions, including in many where there is little or no public funding for such programs at all. In order to bolster often scarce state funding and provide the only funding in some states, in March NCPG is continuing to push for the first-ever Federal legislation to provide national funding to tackle gambling addiction.  

Federal support is particularly appropriate as there are two Federal taxes on gambling that combined are likely to bring in more than $7 billion in tax revenue to the Federal government last year alone. Currently not a penny of that gambling tax revenue goes back to help states address problem gambling issues.  

On January 11, 2024, the GRIT Act was introduced in both chambers of Congress. The GRIT Act utilizes 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 proposed allocation plan is both strategic and comprehensive. Three-quarters of the funds 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 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.  

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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. It provides concrete steps to help prevent public backlash in the face of the unprecedented speed and scale of gambling expansion.  

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, a great opportunity for everyone in the gambling industry to support efforts to minimize gambling-related harm such as the GRIT Act. For more information on the GRIT Act go to:   

  1. Embrace Responsible Gaming: Recognize the importance of responsible gaming and commit to addressing gambling addiction within your operations. 
  1. Collect Comprehensive Data: Gather thorough data on player behavior, preferences, and trends to gain insights into potential gambling addiction risks. 
  1. Analyze Player Trends: Utilize advanced analytics to analyze player trends and identify patterns indicative of gambling addiction or risky behavior. 

Whitepaper: Why Your CDP Needs a Brain

CDP Institute’s David Raab makes the case for embedding a decision engine in your CDP

  1. Implement Early Detection Systems: Develop and implement early detection systems powered by player data to identify at-risk individuals before issues escalate. 
  1. Personalize Interventions: Leverage player data to personalize interventions and support strategies tailored to the unique needs of each individual player. 
  1. Provide Resources and Support: Offer resources, support, and access to assistance programs based on insights gleaned from player data and trends. 
  1. Continuously Monitor and Adjust: Continuously monitor player data and adjust interventions and strategies based on evolving trends and needs to effectively address gambling addiction. 

For more information, download the ebook, Responsible Gaming: Get Ahead of the Game 

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Keith S. Whyte

Keith S. Whyte has served as the Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) since 1998. NCPG serves as the US national advocate to mitigate gambling-related harm. NCPG was founded in 1972 and is the oldest and most objective organization on gambling issues.