California Welfare recipients withdraw $1.8 million in government benefits at casinos

The Los Angeles times broke a very disturbing story regarding state-issued debit cards used for public assistance being used to withdrawal cash in casinos:

The cards, provided by the Department of Social Services to help recipients feed and clothe their families, work in automated teller machines at 32 of 58 tribal casinos and 47 of 90 state-licensed poker rooms, the review found.

State officials said Wednesday they were working to determine how much money had been withdrawn from casino ATMs by people using the welfare debit cards.

Gov Schwarzenegger’s administration looked into the matter and determined that $1.8 million had been withdrawn since October.  After the story broke, there was tremendous public outcry that such government assistance could be turned into cash and through casino ATM’s of all places.  The Kansas Star reported Schwarzenegger’s executive order:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has issued an executive order barring California welfare recipients from using state-issued debit cards at casino ATMs. Thursday’s order followed a report by The Los Angeles Times that found CalWORKS cards were used to withdraw cash in more than half the casinos in the state. Schwarzenegger’s order requires welfare recipients to sign a pledge that they will use their benefits only to meet the basic needs of their families. It also gives the state Department of Social Services seven days to come up with a plan to reduce other “waste, fraud and abuse” in the welfare program.

Some critics are looking for the Governor to expand new rules to other “seedy” business, while others want to see the cash option completely removed from the welfare program.  Regardless of what action is taken, it’s hard to image the level of harm to California families suffered by $1.8 million in government aid being spent on gambling instead of much needed care.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


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