Congressman Tonko Applauds $936K Grant for UAlbany Gambling-Related Research

US Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-New York, is known in the online gambling industry for introducing a bill aimed at banning all online and electronic sports gambling advertising. So it’s notable that he’s applauding the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Substance Abuse and Treatment for its decision to award the University at Albany a $936,414 grant for gambling-related research.

The funds are earmarked to improve best practices for screening, intervention, and treatment for university and college gamblers.

Congressman Tonko, in his statement, said:

I’m thrilled to celebrate this critical funding that will allow UAlbany to expand on its vital work training mental health and substance use professionals to implement screening and brief interventions to prevent substance use and gambling problems and get those in need of treatment the help they need.

The funding is part of more than $4.8 million UAlbany will receive over five years to support its research from HHS’ Mental Health & Substance Abuse Service Grants program.

Gambling-Related Research ‘Critical’ to Grasping Impacts

Also in his May 2 press release, Tonko said:

This funding will help ensure that young adults who are struggling with these issues have access to the timely and responsive support they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

As a longtime advocate for mental health and addiction treatment, I am proud to see this important work continue at UAlbany and across our Capital Region communities, and I remain committed to supporting efforts to combat the overdose epidemic and solve our nation’s youth mental health crisis.

This kind of translational research is critical to furthering our understanding of the impacts of problem gambling and substance abuse on society, said academic Thenkurussi “Kesh” Kesavadas.

Especially for college students.

Kesvadas, the University at Albany’s research and economic development vice president, added in Tonko’s release:

The knowledge we gain from Drs. Cimini and Martin’s research will help inform meaningful interventions that will potentially benefit millions of college students nationwide. We are grateful to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for recognizing the value in this important work.

Tonko’s Bill Targets ‘Relentless’ Sports Betting Advertising

Tonko has been committed to advancing mental health and addiction support throughout his career. He also co-chairs the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus. The bipartisan group is committed to finding solutions to the national addiction crisis.

More recently, Congressman Tonko came to attention in February after introducing the Betting on Our Future Act. The legislation would ban all online and electronic sports gambling advertising if passed.

When announcing the bill in February, Tonko said:

In the years since the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, these unfettered advertisements have run rampant.

These ads pose a particularly dangerous threat to adolescents and young adults unaware of the risks involved in gambling, and to individuals prone to addiction.

He continued:

My legislation puts a halt to this dangerous practice and sends a powerful message to the online sports betting advertisers. Congress must take the necessary steps to reel in an industry with the power to inflict real, widespread harm on the American people.

However, despite that conviction, Tonko’s bill has no co-sponsors. It is also solely concerned with sports betting advertising and overlooks ads for other forms of gambling, like casinos and state lottery games.

“We’re very serious about this issue; he said, “it’s operating in a mostly unregulated, Wild West environment.”

Criticizing gambling advertising as “relentless,” Tonko has also made it clear he’s against the advertising, not legalized sports gambling. ”It’s the advertising that we’re focused on.”

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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