This comes from Oregon, a state that I understand is reeling from a substantial uptick in drug overdose deaths. Nonetheless, an Oregon politician is hoping to draw attention to yet another problematic outbreak: gambling disorders.

‘Out of control’: Congresswoman sounds alarm over ‘unchecked’ gambling boom

Leading the charge is first term Congressperson Andrea Salinas of Portland. She’s a prime mover in the effort to pass the Gambling Addiction Recovery Investment and Treatment Act (GRIT). According to the article, revenues from the Federal excise tax on sports “have surged in recent years as the legal market expanded,” and Salinas is pushing a law that would reserve some 50% of that revenue for “gambling addiction treatment, prevention and research.”

I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that the gambling industry has risen up in firm opposition to the proposal.

Here’s a quote from an industry spokesperson: “Our industry’s growth means that there’s never been more attention paid to, or money invested in, problem gambling support than there is today.”

Good for them, but doesn’t that mean that as their profits have grown from legalized gambling, so has the percentage they contribute to treatment. And that has never been all that large.

I’d be happy to see the legalized gambling industry share a greater portion of its riches with the unfortunates who become its victims.

As an alternative, the gambling industry suggests that the government repeal the excise tax altogether. The rationale: The tax is inherently unfair to legal gambling operations. It “…puts the nascent legal market at a competitive disadvantage against offshore illegal operators, who do not pay any taxes and prey on vulnerable customers.”

It’s the same argument we hear from movers and shakers in the cannabis industry. They complain, bitterly upset that the black market for pot hasn’t gone away, and in fact, has continued to expand.

The reason? Black market cannabis is cheaper. Black marketeers don’t like paying taxes, either, and are willing to risk jail to stuff that money in their own pockets.

I doubt the solution is to cancel a tax that ensures a steady influx of revenue needed to support treatment and prevention. I mean, can you imagine what an untreated, severe gambling disorder can do to an innocent family, and their future?

As for progress, Rep. Salinas admits that Congress isn’t devoting much attention to the issue. “So, yeah,” she says, “it could take a while.”