That’s led to some action.

In January, Blumenthal introduced the Gambling Addiction Recovery and Treatment (GRIT) Act, which aims to stop sports betting companies from targeting problem gamblers and set aside federal funds to study and treat gambling addiction.

“Any high-profile instance of gambling addiction serves as an urgent reminder, and warning sign, of the problems that come with gambling,” Blumenthal said in an emailed response. “But more concerning to me is the silent epidemic of addiction that is hitting everyday Americans, especially young people, harder and harder as gambling becomes more prevalent in our society.”

Blumenthal said there is an urgent need to invest in treatment programs “before the problem balloons even more.”

“Gambling companies must recognize their responsibility in safeguarding bettors from addiction,” the senator said.

With so much attention focused on the Ohtani sports betting scandal, Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said that “the opportunity is ripe for passing a smart bill like the GRIT Act.”

“There has never been more bipartisan interest on the Hill to do something about sports betting,” Whyte said.

The American Gaming Association opposes the GRIT Act, the group’s point person for governmental relations, Chris Cylke, said in a statement, but added that it was ready to work with Blumenthal and other lawmakers to “combat illegal gambling and address problem gambling in ways that do not further enshrine bad tax police and give criminals a leg up.”

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal statute that restricted regulated sports betting mostly to Nevada six years ago. Since then, legal betting markets have emerged in 37 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and the industry has taken more than $337 million in bets.

Tonko has said the sports betting industry has been operating since 2018 in “a Wild West, largely unregulated environment.”

DeBaun disagreed.

“The legal sports betting industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in America and we’re proud of how we meet and exceed those standards to protect consumers,” DeBaun said in a statement. “This includes oversight from 5,000 regulators nationwide who establish and enforce robust frameworks that protect players and support competition.”

Still, industry critics like blogger Ben Krauss wrote that the sports betting industry makes it too easy for bettors to lose their shirts.

Some states have reported a rise in calls to their gambling addiction hotlines, most notably Florida.


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