In response to learning that less than a fifth of 1% of gaming taxes are used to help problem gamblers, Congressman Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) announced today he intends to sponsor legislation that would require states to set aside at least 1% of their gambling revenue for prevention and treatment.
A national survey conducted by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., an Alabama-based company, found that the 48 states with legal gambling collected $21 billion in revenue from gambling last year but spent only $36 million on programs to treat gambling addition or prevent it.
Meehan commented that it's stunning the amount of money states get from gambling but don't bother to do anything for problem gamblers. He considers it a growing public health problem that's been largely ignored with the expansion of legal gambling in the United States.
In addition to sponsoring a bill to earmark gambling revenue for prevention and treatment programs, Meehan plans to recommend setting up a $10 million federal grant program to help fund regional treatment centers throughout the country.
The congressman's legislation would be the first to specifically address the issue of problem gambling. He said that even if states took 1% of the profit they get from gambling, it would net hundreds of millions of dollars to help gambling addicts.