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Blumenthal estimates more than $3 billion will be bet during March Madness

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal celebrates with the UConn men's basketball team after their 2023 NCAA tournament win.
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal celebrates with the UConn men's basketball team after their 2023 NCAA tournament win.

The NCAA basketball tournament is here, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is concerned with the impact it will have on people addicted to gambling.

He estimated more than $3 billion will be bet during March Madness this year — double what was bet on the Super Bowl in February.

According to Blumenthal, companies like FanDuel and DraftKings are collecting data from problem gamblers and using it against them to keep them addicted.

“They love the losers because they produce more revenue for them. And so they assign to them the big losers, VIPs scores that enable them to do even more gambling, push enticements, like bonuses and credits, and do promotions and marketing,” Blumenthal said. “Beware.”

The Gambling Addiction Recovery, Investment, and Treatment (GRIT) Act, which Blumenthal is sponsoring, would devote around half the revenue from the federal excise tax on gambling to addiction treatment and research.

Currently, .25% of the money wagered on sports bets goes to federal taxes.

“Every other form of addiction, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, involve federal funding, but none for gambling addiction,” Blumenthal said. “That is wrong.”

The act was introduced in January.

He also sent letters to 8 sportsbooks, including FanDuel, DraftKings and Fanatics, asking them to use their data to offer help to people with gambling addictions.

“These gambling companies can do more, and can do better, to provide problem gamblers with tools and means to exclude themselves, to bar themselves from those platforms,” Blumenthal said. “There are self-exclusion tools that the sports betting companies can readily provide at no cost to problem gamblers so they can exclude themselves.”

The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates around 7 million Americans have a gambling addiction.

Click here to access the National Problem Gambling Helpline.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.