Federal Gov’t looks to hault state welfare abuses tied to gambling venues

Casino Watch Focus reported that California welfare recipients withdrew $1.8 million in government benefits at casino ATM’s across the state.  Other states have reported similar issues.  Most recently, an investigation revealed that welfare recipients in both Illinois and Missouri withdrew government provided aid from their welfare cards in Las Vegas.  Most of the ATM’s in Vegas Casino’s block EBT withdrawls, but there are still too many gambling venues across the country that have no safeguards.  Cases like this have now drawn the ire of Congress as they look to pass legislation to solve the problem.  The LA Times reports:

Welfare recipients nationwide would be barred from using their government-issued debit cards at casinos, strip clubs and liquor stores under a bill to be introduced Wednesday by leaders of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

A co-sponsor of the measure says he was inspired by the fact that nearly $5 million in cash benefits issued in California and meant to help struggling families feed and clothe their children, was spent or withdrawn from ATMs at casinos and poker rooms between January 2007 and May 2010.

Tens of thousands of dollars in Temporary Aid for Needy Families assistance was accessed or spent with the debit cards at Los Angeles-area strip clubs in the same period.

The bill has financial consequences for those states who don’t come into compliance and has bipartisan support.   The LA Times continues:

This bill will hopefully put an end to egregious abuses that have happened in many states, not just California,” said co-author Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). Under the measure, states would have two years to demonstrate compliance with the bans or face a 5% cut in the federal contribution to their welfare programs, Hatch said.  The bill has bipartisan backing: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is also listed as an author.

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