Michigan Already Leading In Tackling Problem Gambling, But Federal Act Could Help

Written By Dave Briggs on January 12, 2024 - Last Updated on February 22, 2024
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Michigan spends more than most states on problem gambling prevention and treatment, but that funding could increase if a new federal Act is passed.

The Gambling addiction Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act was introduced Thursday by US Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and US Representative Andrea Salinas of Oregon.

Currently, there is no federal funding stream dedicated to preventing, treating, and researching problem gambling in the United States.

Yet, the National Council on Problem Gambling reports:

“Gambling addiction is a significant public health concern, affecting approximately 7 million American adults, and resulting in severe social and economic consequences. The annual social cost of problem gambling is estimated at $7 billion, reflecting gambling-related criminal justice and healthcare spending as well as job loss and bankruptcy.”

Michigan third in the nation in problem gambling funding

Michigan ranks highly in terms of funding for problem gambling resources and programs.

A study by the National Association of Administrators for Disordered Gambling Services found that Michigan was third in the nation in 2023 allocations for problem gambling at $10 million annually. Only New York (about $10.5 million) and Massachusetts (about $11 million) spend more.

The national average is $2.2 million spent on problem gambling services. So, Michigan is nearly five times the national average.

When it comes to per capita spending, Michigan ranked fifth in 2023 with about $1 spent on problem gambling per person. That’s up from 11th spot in 2022, when the state spent about 65 cents per person on problem gambling. Both figures are well above the national average of about 46 cents per person.

Michigan is also one of 15 states that saw a budget increase for problem gambling services of greater than 5% from 2021 to 2022.

So, Michigan is clearly trending in the right direction in terms of addressing problem gambling.

Still, the NCPG recommends that states allocate 1% of gambling tax revenue to problem gambling resources.

In 2022, total tax revenue from gambling in Michigan was some $1.96 billion. A 1% cut of that would amount to $19.6 million — nearly double what Michigan spends now ($10 million annually) on problem gambling.

That’s where, perhaps, GRIT can make up for the perceived shortfall.

GRIT Act aims to provide urgent federal funding for problem gambling

The NCPG reports that key provisions of the GRIT Act include:

  • Allocating 50% of the current federal sports excise tax revenue for gambling addiction treatment and research administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Health and Human Services distribution of 75% to states for prevention and treatment through the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program and direct the remaining 25% to the National Institute of Drug Abuse for research grants into gambling addiction.
  • Authorizing spending for 10 years and mandating a report to Congress on the program’s effectiveness within three years of passage.

The NCPG said, “the risk for gambling addiction rose by 30% between 2018 and 2021 alone.”

Susan Sheridan Tucker, President of the NCPG Board of Directors, said federal funding is urgent.

“The GRIT Act reflects a pivotal step towards long-overdue support for those grappling with gambling addiction,” she said. “We commend Senator Blumenthal and Representative Salinas for their dedication to addressing the burgeoning public health crisis of gambling addiction. The National Council on Problem Gambling stands in full support of this legislation, recognizing its potential to make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and families across the nation.”

GRIT would fund state health agencies and nonprofits

If passed, GRIT would provide important support to state health agencies and nonprofits addressing problem gambling.

NCPG said the Act would also create “investment in best practices and comprehensive research at the national level.”

Importantly, the Act “does not raise taxes or create additional bureaucracy. It leverages existing federal excise tax revenue and operates within the existing Health and Human Services framework.”

NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte said he was grateful to all involved in introducing the GRIT act.

“The introduction of the GRIT Act is a testament to our shared commitment to mitigating gambling-related harm and addressing the challenges of gambling addiction,” Whyte said.

“This landmark legislation sets the stage to significantly bolster gambling addiction prevention, research, and treatment resources and make a positive lasting impact on individuals and communities nationwide.”

Michigan responsible gambling programs

Michigan has a number of responsible gambling resources spearheaded by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

One of its best is its award-winning “Don’t Regret the Bet” marketing campaign. Recently, it was announced the campaign would receive $3 million in funding for 2024.

Responsible gambling hotline

Michigan offers a Responsible Gambling Hotline at 1-888-223-3044

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services helpline on Problem Gambling

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ problem gambling helpline is a toll-free, confidential, one-on-one helpline that offers help and support for Michigan residents who are problem gamblers and gambling addicts.

The phone number is 1-800-270-7117.

Casino or sportsbook self-exclusion

By law, online and physical casinos must provide a mechanism so consumers can exclude themselves from being able to place bets. The self-exclusion allows anyone to place their name on a list for a fixed time or permanently. As a result, they cannot enter the casino, or place a wager at an online casino or sports betting site. Michigan also allows any consumer to take a break from betting, for weeks, or even months.

Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous, like its sister program Alcoholics Anonymous, provides a peer-to-peer 12-step program to address a problem. A link to the Gamblers Anonymous can be found on the Don’t Regret the Bet site, or from the MGCB.

National Council on Problem Gambling

This esteemed national gambling problem awareness organization has a myriad of resources for gamblers or friends and family of gamblers. The national organization also has a toll-free number, 1-800-GAMBLER, to assist in identifying emergency services.

Gam-Anon

The Gam-Anon program is for friends and family of people with a gambling addiction.

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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Michigan with an emphasis on online casino, online sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gambling industries in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Canada.

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