California Welfare Recipients Spending Millions At Casinos

Following an L.A. Times report that revealed the California welfare debit card program allows benefits recipients to withdraw cash at ATMs at casinos, state officials disclosed that over $1.8 million in taxpayer cash had been withdrawn on the gaming floors of casinos in just the last eight months.

Though this amount represents less than 1% of total welfare spending in the state during those months, it’s still set off alarm bells in Sacramento, where Governor Schwarzenegger has ordered the vendor that runs the welfare system’s ATM network to prohibit the cards from working at casino machines.

Schwarzenegger has also issued an executive order requiring welfare recipients to promise they will use cash benefits only to “meet the basic subsistence needs” of their families. California Republicans are asking the administration to identify those welfare recipients who withdrew money at casinos and to recover the cash from them.

Explains a rep for the State Assembly’s Republican Leader:

I’d say that $227,000 per month is an astounding waste of taxpayer dollars… To me it is absolutely clear that the department failed in its duty to provide oversight. We should explore all options to get the money back.

The to-do over the withdrawals comes after the L.A. TImes found that the welfare debit cards worked at ATMs in 32 of the state’s 58 tribal casinos and 47 of California’s 90 state-licensed poker rooms.

California welfare recipients withdrew $1.8 million at casino ATMs over eight months [L.A. Times]

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  1. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Well, this way they can just spread the blame around even further. “It’s not my fault that I can’t feed my family, even though the state gives me money to do so; it’s the casino’s fault for not giving me the jackpots I deserve!”

  2. humphrmi says:

    Wow that’s just a bucketload of fail for a state that is deeply in debt. Now make me wonder about my own state (Illinois).

    I’ve been on the dole once (unemployment) and never even considered going to the casino’s during my unemployment period. The thought of losing a month’s sustenance for my kids at a craps table gives me the heebie-jeebies. I can’t imagine how these people who squander what little help they get can live with themselves.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Humans are, if nothing else, very good at rationalizing our poor decisions, at editing our memories of past events and actions so that everything we did was perfectly reasonable, and at shifting blame.

      I’m sure that some of those people were thinking “The gubbment doesn’t give me enough, so I figured I’d try to see if I could turn it into more.” And the psychology of gambling–you win some, you lose some, but you lose more often in the hopes that you’ll win it back later–just encourages further such attempts. :/

    • Skyhawk says:

      Just so you know, you weren’t on the ‘dole’ while on unemployment. You paid for unemployment insurance through paycheck deductions while you were working.

      That’s a big difference than getting welfare. Welfare is receiving money that you did not work for and is paid for by someone else.

      • ShruggingGalt says:

        Not every state has the employee pay for UI. Even the feds are 100% employer, so that’s not correct.

      • Mr_Human says:

        I thought unemployment insurance — or at least part of it — was paid by the employer.

      • jessjj347 says:

        That’s not true either. With many “welfare” programs, you have to work, which is why these days they are generally called “work support” programs. I can’t tell what exactly this article is referring to though. With TANF, for example, “Single parents are required to participate in work activities for at least 30 hours per week. Two-parent families must participate in work activities 35 or 55 hours a week, depending upon circumstances.” (Wikipedia)

      • regis-s says:

        It could be argued that anyone that pays state taxes pays into the welfare program just the same as an employee pays into unemployment.

    • areaman says:

      Wait… I agree with everything in your post. But I want to correct/amplify something. There’s no dice gambling games in California’s legal gambling places.

      I’ve heard they try to get around it by using cards or something in place of dice but that’s not really craps IMHO.

      But ya, big fail for my state.

  3. Supes says:

    Well, how are people ever supposed to get off welfare if they can’t bet it all on black and double their money??

    Seriously though… this reminds me of the story a month or so ago which said that poor people tend to spend a lot more money on lottery tickets. There are reasons this money is being spent in casinos. The state can make it so the welfare debit cards can’t be used there, but it just means they’re use them outside the casinos and still gamble.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      You can see this if you look at the sales of lottery tickets in Mass broken down by town; the poorest towns have the highest per-capita spending on lottery tickets.

    • ARP says:

      But people don’t try to figure out why they do that. Some of it is laziness and greed- no doubt about it. But part of it is also a sense of dispair. Meaning, many people feel the only way out of their situation is through gambling (of any sort). I’m certainly not condoning it, but we should try to understand the root of it and attack the problem at that level.

      I actually think Welfare to Work programs are a good idea, even if they costs the state more money as they can instill a sense of dignity and perhaps get people off the system entirely.

      • regis-s says:

        I certainly think “workfare” programs can be good. They’ve done that here at times. If an employer hires an eligible person on welfare the government will subsidize part of the worker’s wages. Of course what happens then is as soon as the worker’s eligibility runs out the employer gets rid of him and hires someone else. So really it just turns into a welfare for business program.

  4. TuxthePenguin says:

    This is why we need to go back to the food vouchers/stamps. No confusion on who accepts them. Sure, its not a lot, but this is only one bit of fraud and waste that they’ve found. I’ll bet anyone that there is more if they look.

    • Javin says:

      100% agree. These debit cards should work ONLY at store counters, and ONLY for clothing, food, cleaning supplies, etc. You wanna buy beer? Get a job.

      • Southern says:

        I was thinking that (changing it so that the cards only worked as POS cards with no cash back option), but isn’t Welfare also used to pay for rent/housing?

        Most landlords won’t take plastic (whether it be debit or Visa), so they might NEED cash for this.. I don’t really know enough about true “Welfare” to know what it was designed to pay for (unlike WIC or Food Stamps, which have specific purposes).

    • morehalcyondays says:

      No, this is why the government needs to get out of the charity business. There are too many welfare cheaters bleeding the taxpayers dry.

      • tbax929 says:

        I disagree. Yes, there are people who take advantage of the system, and something needs to be done about it. But cutting support to every single person who needs it is punishing people who genuinely need the aid and aren’t abusing the system.

        • DangerMouth says:

          I’m as liberal as the day is long, but I really think there should be mandatory birth control if you are on welfare. Having one kid you can’t feed is bad enough, but producing going-on-four generations who think that welfare is a valid way of life is just too much.

          Go ahead, rake me over the coals.

          • evnmorlo says:

            Birth control and abortions are beloved by liberals, so there is no reason to feel liberal-guilt.

            • Snockered says:

              Way to be glib.

            • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

              Yes, all liberals love abortion. Oh wait, no, they don’t. Find me one person who “loves” it.

              Oh wait, I forgot. Shut up, Glenn.

            • JamieSueAustin says:

              It’s only Christians and Conservatives that advocate the abstinence myth as part of their Puritanical “self-deprivation gets me closer to Heaven” dogma. The rest of the world understand that sex is a natural part of human life, so keeping down the spread of disease and preventing unwanted pregnancy is important. You can make all the arbitrary rules about who should screw and when they should do it you want… but the truth is that people have sex. Frequently. It’s what they do.

          • Southern says:

            Well, if you insist.. But I won’t enjoy it very much since I agree with you. :)

            Frankly I know people that are on Welfare, and they don’t NEED it. They CAN work, they just don’t WANT to. I also know people that are on Welfare that DO need it, because they can barely move under their own power (I know a lot of these folks because my wife is a home health care provider/CNA).

            The trouble is, the state(s) don’t have the time and don’t have the manpower to determine where someone actually “needs” welfare or not. You apply, you meet the requirements, you get it. From there on, (many) people just don’t want to get off the government gravy train.

            • Snockered says:

              You obviously have no idea how it works.

              You apply, then you wait three months while they process your applications. Then you have to find a time to go in for an interview (and, much like the DMV, the assistance office hours usually suck). Then you have to go back to get your card. Every 6 months they review your case to make sure there have been no change in circumstances. If you miss an interview or appointment your benefits are cut off.

              I agree that the system is not perfect, and that there is fraud, but most people just assume that anyone can waltz in and apply for free money. That’s just not true.

              • DangerMouth says:

                I don’t know everything about how it works, I just know people who work it. Mainly by continuing to have more kids. If a man won’t work, he is much less likely to receive aide, but mothers and children always will.

                You or I (probably at least lower middle class, at least a high school graduate, computer literate, can find our way around a keyboard?), coming in off the street, and saying “give me money”, well, no, that’s not going to work. But get knocked up, leave high school at 16, have a baby, have another, go into your social worker and say, “he left town and stopped sending money”, then yes, you’ll get all types of assistance. Most of these programs aren’t actually cash, they are programs such as WIC, AFDC, section 8, there are tons of programs that assist people with basic food, clothing, shelter, and medical care that don’t involve cash.

                The small upside is that most states have gotten a lot more serious about going after the fathers for unpaid child support, to repay some of this assistance. But you still can’t get blood out of a rock.

                • Snockered says:

                  I am well aware of the different kinds of assistance programs. I work with people on them every day and I can tell you that while people go around thinking these women are having children just for the small bump in benefits, that simply isn’t true. I would say a far higher number of women having children they can’t afford are doing so because they are in borderline-abusive relationships or because they really don’t just understand how family planning works.

                  Perhaps a better solution would be to offer FREE birth control for anyone who wants it as well as comprehensive sex education, but I will eat my hat if that ever happens.

                  • DangerMouth says:

                    I probably gave the impression that woman have kids *just* to get out of working. I know it’s more complicated than that. And what started out good and normal can go bad, and it’s often no one’s fault, but just the way things are.

                    But I still can’t see any argument, other than carelessness, to have more kids, if you are *already* receiving assistance.

                    • Snockered says:

                      I totally agree that people should stop having so many kids, whether they receive assistance or not. Far too many children are born to people who can’t or won’t care for them properly. I often encourage clients to start taking birth control and inform them about ways to get it for little or no cost. Much of the time they just didn’t know it was available to them, or they had heard misinformation about side effects or effectiveness. What may look like carelessness to you is actually a lack of education. Not to say that these people are stupid, but they never learned some of the basic life skills that we have. The cycle of poverty is difficult to escape, no matter how hard you’re tugging on your bootstraps

                      That said, forcing people to take birth control just so they can have money to eat or pay rent is unethical and immoral.

                  • Jevia says:

                    Because some people seem to think its all the poor woman’s fault that she can’t say “no” as if that would even work many times, and of course you can’t teach sex education or provide birth control to high school students (let alone younger) because its “sinful.”

                    As at least for men and childless women, isn’t there a five year limit on getting welfare benefits? I know women can get it longer if they have kids, or at least benefits for the kids, but I thought there was still some maximum time frame on benefits.

            • Snockered says:

              Also, a great number of people who receive assistance DO work. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the cost of living has risen greatly, while many people’s wages have not.

            • DangerMouth says:

              I agree with that. I was thinking more big picture/long term. There will always be those who can’t work, and always be those who *won’t* work. And society will always be picking up the tab for both types. I just think that allowing people to create generation after generation of children who grow up with no sel-respect, no work ethic, no idea that society is comprised of both giving as well as receiving is a huge fail for everyone concerned.

              I have no idea how to say to some one who wants to work but can’t, “you shouldn’t have kids if you can’t work to feed them”, but that’s the way I feel. And I have no way of telling them from others that simply believe that if they can get away with not working, why bother?

              There is a tradition in some cultures that the poorest and least fortunate are a *part* of society, and that alms given are a good and required component of everyone’s social and spiritual lives. Today, in this country, it just seems like it’s soul destroying for all concerned, breeding resentment and contempt on both sides, and furthering our political and social divides.

            • jessjj347 says:

              The thing is, there are also people who are sort of like “on the border” financially. They work (minimum wage jobs) and just qualify for benefits. If they were to work slightly more hours, they would actually end of with less available finances, because they would no longer qualify for benefits. So, they purposely do not work long hours. These “on the border” cases are the really the people that I usually think will stay in the system for life – and possibly for future generations.

      • dreamfish says:

        Do you have proof of that claim, such as objective statistics (and, by objective, that automatically excludes Fox News)?

        The problem with this sort of story is that it gets picked up and spun as *all* those on welfare are lazy cheats who game the system – and the supposed solution is to greatly cut or restrict payments.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          My solution isn’t to cut spending, just move back to a system that’s much, much more resistant to fraud. You get stamps. That you cant trade in for food. Bingo.

          • Snockered says:

            Regardless of how one gets food benefits, whether on a debit card or as stamps, you absolutely cannot spend it on anything other than unprepared food. Read up a little bit on government assistance before you get your panties in a twist about something that really has nothing to do with this story at all. There is no way anyone was spending food stamp money in a casino.

          • Thyme for an edit button says:

            People starve because of the social stigma attached to the paper food stamp coupons.

            It is particularly a problem with senior citizens who often do not know the benefits come on a debit card now. I have had clients that just don’t eat toward the end of a month because they can’t afford it. The debit cards have made it easier to convince seniors to apply for these benefits.

            Also, food stamp benefits are not the same as welfare benefits (known as CalWORKs in California.)

            • veritybrown says:

              If a person is too proud to use a charitable solution that will let them eat, then that is their own choice. When you start trying to cater to the personality quirks of every person out there, just to give away something for free, you’re in really sad shape. But then, libtards just can’t seem to accept that people should be free to make their own choices (oh, unless it’s a) to have sex, or b) to abort their baby).

              BTW, the “debit cards” in every state I’m aware of are easy to recognize as government assistance cards–they have their own distinctive design which doesn’t look like a regular bank card–so the users aren’t really fooling anyone.

              • PunditGuy says:

                Except in this case the “libtard” solution, as you so cleverly refer to it, is a significantly cheaper alternative to what it replaced in addition to helping eliminate the stigma. Most people would consider that a win-win — even wingnuts such as yourself.

                • veritybrown says:

                  What “more expensive” solution did the welfare state replace?

                  • Acth says:

                    Starving people will steal and murder just to eat….. Starving children are unable to learn. Feed them and you need to spend less on jails, police detail, and the cycle of poverty that lack of education perpetuates. Feeding them costs far less than that.

                    • veritybrown says:

                      I would agree, but I have personally observed that these benefits tend to be sold or exchanged for things the parents “need” (drugs, booze, lotto tickets) rather than being used to feed their kids. The current system perpetuates crime, rather than leading people out of it.

              • Thyme for an edit button says:

                You’re right, let’s definitely continue a social stigma we don’t have to perpetuate by easily identifying those that get benefits. They should have to wear special shirts maybe with FS on them to show that they get benefits. Debit cards are for pussies.

                Those with “peculiarities”, well, fuck ‘em. Fuck the elderly people whose mentality that they can somehow “make do” even if they are starving. This is a mentality I find in folks that came out of the depression era. The sooner they die from nutritional problems, the less they will cost society anyway.

                And yes, EBT cards are recognizable just like branded debit and credit cards. However, I didn’t realize it was usual for people to scrutinize people’s debit cards and credit cards. I sure have never noticed what cards people are paying with when I am at the store.

                For people to have the most options for making a choice, I guess we could bring back the paper coupons, have debit cards, and maybe shirts advertising that the beneficiary is on a state nutrition program. Recipients could then choose between these options.

                • Geekybiker says:

                  I think we should brand them on their forehead so there isn’t an easy way to hide it.

          • JamieSueAustin says:

            The physical stamps were riddled with fraud. People sold them for cash and used the cash however. Now, most places use a debit card. It has a pre-loaded amount of money that can be used for FOOD only. Anything else has to be paid with a different form of payment.

            What you are thinking of are cash assistance payments. They’ve always been given in cash, check, or card… and that’s what’s being discussed here in the article. Not food benefits.

          • Pax says:

            Electronically-issued Food Stamps program benefits can’t be spent on anything but food, still.

            And $50 of electronically-issued food stamps costs the government a damned sight less than the same $50 in food stamps, issued as paper. Paper food stamps require ALL the anti-counterfeit protections of ordinary currencies, but are ONE USE items – because they were issued in booklets, not individual notes. Once they were redeemed by a merchant, they had to be _destroyed_, and new ones made.

            So. Issue someone a $5 card, and pay $5/month to run an electronic account, so they can receive their $100. The cost of those $100 is thus $110.

            Or, issue someone $100 in paper foodstamps – one 5x$10 booklet, one 8x$5 booklet, and one 10x$1 booklet, totalling 23 coupons that cost $0.50 apiece to print, bound into three booklets that cost $0.50 each to assemble. Total cost of those $100 is thus $113.

            Now, you might think the extra $3 is a small price to pay …. but consider these three things:

            HOW MANY TIMES do you pay that $3? Fifty thousand people receiving those benefits, means now we’re at $150K.

            That amount is PER MONTH … $36/year, or for 50K people, gee … $1,800,000. (Coincidence truly not intentional, but amusing nonetheless.)

            And finally, IT DOESN’T STOP FRAUD. You can sell those food stamps for $0.50 on the dollar, if you’re so inclined. If you don’t know anyone who’ll buy those coupons, you can go buy FOOD – expensive stuff, meat and so forth – and sell THAT, for $0.25 to $0.75 on the dollar.

            Read that again: IT DOESN’T STOP FRAUD. It never did, and it never will. All you’d end up doing is throwing good money after bad.

          • pot_roast says:

            as others have mentioned, people just sell the stamps for a lower value or trade them for booze & cigarettes, recreating an entire black market.

      • YOXIM says:

        Everyone pays taxes. Even the “cheaters”. Also keep in mind that the total figure for the money spent in casinos makes up only about 1% of total welfare money given out. Let’s not screw over all the people that are trying to make ends meet and using the welfare money for its intended purposes because of a few that cheat the system. There is no perfect system, and every system has its fair share of cheaters.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          Yes, they pay taxes, but the whole point of welfare is that you’re receiving more than you pay in.

          As for the fraud being only 1%… umm… its STILL FRAUD. And I bet if they really dug through the records, they’d find a LOT more than just 1%.

          Now, as an accountant and economist, I understand that no system is fraud proof. But there are easy things you can to do stop this… such as bringing back the stamp for food rather than giving them a debit card. Or making it a “reimbursement” type system – give them 1/4 of the cash they get a month up front to use, then if they want more they need to turn in receipts. Now, that presents other problems, but if the cost of the new system is less than the fraud and waste in the old, its the net benefit to the real taxpayers funding the system.

          • ARP says:

            I think there’s a point where there’s a dimishing rate of return when it comes to enforcement- i.e. you’re spending more in trying to root out fraud, than is actually committed. Most government systems (tax, unemployment, medicare, etc.) have an acceptable amount of fraud/waste built into the system. People can argue what that amount is, but you should always consider the enforcement costs v. the cost savings/collections.

            • Syncop8d1 says:

              This is what I was thinking. I was wondering just how many more people and hours would it take to process all of those receipts. I suppose if the process of receipt submission were electronic where the receipt was scanned somehow maybe there wouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, there is the question of set up costs. I think most agencies acknowledge that some fraud exists, just like stores acknowledge that some shoplifting exists.

          • Pax says:

            You seem to think there’s no such thing as “food stamps” anymore. But there are. They’re just issued electronically.

            I receive cash benefits (Social Security Disability), deposited directly into my bank account each month.

            I also receive Food Stamps each month, which are credited to a government-controlled account I can access through my “EBT” (“Electronic Balance Transfer” – card.

            The cash benefits are just that – cash. I can spend them however I please. I have an ordinary VISA-logo debit card, issued by my credit union; it allows me to shop online, make cash withdrawals from ATMs, and so forth. Those benefits, I use to pay my rent, buy clothes, WASH those clothes, and all the other sundry “it’s not food” expenses a person faces.

            The Food Stamp benefits, however? Are much more limited and restricted. I can’t take them out in cash, from anywhere. I can’t use them online, nor can I necessarily use them in any store I see; the store has to be a participant in the program, and have the necessary equipment to handle the POS transaction.

            And then there’s the simple fact that even in a store that accepts Food Stamps, _what_ I buy is strictly limited to “food and non-alcoholic drink”. Thus, those benefits go directly nd exclusively to my groceries each month. (MOST of my groceries are still bought with my cash benefits, by the way.)

    • Midwest Doc says:

      Bring back government cheese!

      • Azzizzi says:

        I lived off that government cheese (and butter) when I was in junior-high. I agree with that. I think there should be a government pantry where welfare-eligible people can go to shop. I don’t know why you would ever hand free cash to someone who hasn’t proven he/she can make good decisions.

    • ARP says:

      People used to sell the vouchers for cash and spend it on drugs, casinos, etc., so that would recreate that black market.

      Most welfare systems have a card (in Illinois it’s called Link) it so that most of the money can only be spent on approved items with a small amount available in cash.

  5. Southern says:

    Schwarzenegger has also issued an executive order requiring welfare recipients to promise they will use cash benefits only to “meet the basic subsistence needs” of their families.

    ROFL!!!!! Oh yeah, THAT’LL work!

    • elangomatt says:

      I concur, people can’t be trusted. What needs to be done is to put rules in place where the recipients can lose their benefits if they are found to be using the cash for things other than basic sustenance needs. I always say, people will not do the right thing unless they receive a penalty in their pocketbook.

  6. iggy21 says:

    Hmm.. makes me wonder if that’s why they are on welfare?

  7. hansn says:

    So that’s what, about 6 cents per EBT recipient?

    • Javin says:

      Or you could also say that’s $1.8 million in taxpayer money.

      • ARP says:

        How much money is wasted in other areas of government. How about the war in Iraq? I’m not even talking about the base costs, I’m talking about the billions IN CASH, that were literally lost- no one knows where it is, and Halliburton poisoning the water, but still getting paid in full. For states, they often offer huge tax incentives to companies and build out lots of infrastructure only to have the company not fulfill its end of the bargain (keeping X number of people employed with sufficient “professional” positions. So if you want to take a look at government spending and waste, welfare is a tiny percentage of the budget. Of that budget there’s a much smaller percentage of this that is actually wasted.

        • ARP says:

          I’m not saying we should allow it, but there are bigger fish to fry at times. Also, you need to consider the costs of enforcement against what you’re saving.

          • iggy21 says:

            no, but you are implying that we should ignore it

            • hansn says:

              I would suggest it is an extremely minor cost. Sure, ban the use of the cards at casinos (probably bars too). Keep in mind if one tenth of one percent of EBT recipients went to a casino and spend $50, that would total about the amount seen. It could also be an even smaller group of problem gamblers. I mean, frankly, it is even possible that some used the atm at a casino without gambling. The reality is, with events as rare as are here, it is difficult to know.

  8. P41 says:

    prohibiting use? sure. And how about making the attempt an automatic referral for an interview to decide whether to forward to gambling addition counseling, fraud investigation, or both.

  9. Jacquilynne says:

    Anyone want to lay odds on whether the Governator’s orders will cost more or less than $1.8 million a year to implement?

  10. copious28 says:

    But the real question is, are they winning?

  11. sqeelar says:

    Let me get this straight. All other ATM machines require two transactions over two days, with fee, to get the money from the state funds card, and the casinos allow for the whole thing with one transaction.

    The idea of giving the deserving poor money must be tempered with letting our friends profit twice. What would the Empowerful Bill Bennett say?

  12. El-Brucio says:

    People who have gambling addictions can end up on welfare, and the addiction doesn’t go away. One of my second cousins is homeless because of a gambling addiction. Every time he gets on welfare, he gambles it all away, and this apparently includes whatever furniture and dwellings the social workers have managed to get for him.

    I had another relative in the 90’s who was on welfare and his parents would have to buy him food, not because welfare didn’t give him enough money, but because he would spend all the money on drugs.

    What we need is greater accessibility to services to help people with their addictions. Mind you, this would require some of those people admitting they have a problem first….

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Agreed.

      Also, I have an uncle who is homeless because of a gambling addiction. He trades food stamps for less than what they’re worth so that he can use the money to gamble.

    • common_sense84 says:

      It sounds like anyone on welfare should be banned from casinos and should have to take drug tests.

      Lets be realistic, the people who do these things choose to be that way. A 30 minute group session once a month isn’t going to fix anything.

      • JamieSueAustin says:

        You’ll spend more to enforce that than you’ll recover from fraud…. just say’n…

      • El-Brucio says:

        Well, after you ban them, the problem arises of what happens to them? They don’t just go away. They’re in the same situation they were in before, only now they have no money. With your “30 minutes a month” addiction support, few if any of those people are going to beat their addictions, instead they will turn to begging or crime to support their habits.

        And for some strange reason, it costs more to hire police officers and pay for prisons than it does for preventative measures. Funny that.

        As to the choice issue for people with addictions, sure, it’s a choice for some people. That middle-class guy who had a nice childhood and has parents who want to pay for him to go to college but instead he hangs out with the wrong kind of people and gets into drugs despite being told of their dangers, sure, that’s a choice. But plenty of people suffering from addiction have far less choice in the matter.

        They come from poorer areas of low education and difficult family situations. Hell, some of them are even born addicts or with developmental disabilities because their mothers didn’t stop using drugs or alcohol while they were pregnant. In short, they are the product of their environment, and that environment isn’t going to get any better without outside help.

      • OmnipotentMLE says:

        how do you ban people on welfare or other benefits from casinos and bars? Can you tell the difference between an employed or unemployed person walking into a building?

        I am on unemployment and I wanted to get a part-time job (because I was tired of sitting around the house, not hearing from places I applied to), and I was told I would lose my benefits because my wages roughly equal the amount of money I get in benefits each week. The government would rather have me sit on my ass watching judge judy then work in a starbucks for 15 hours a week while looking for a full time job. That seems more stupid than if I decide to go to AC for the weekend and try my luck at a blackjack table. Or use my UI check to buy lottery tickets.

  13. captadam says:

    Well, I’m not too surprised. Governments have embraced casinos as a way to get rich quick–not just for the gamblers, but for the governments themselves. They’ve legalized gambling (something I am NOT opposed to, for the record) with the promise of great riches pouring into public coffers as a result. The inherent message is: Go gamble! Try your luck! It’s good for everybody! And you might strike it rich!

  14. Mike says:

    This is nothing new, it’s just that people don’t hear about this often enough. How many people on welfare stay there either because of gambling, drug, or alcohol addictions? I bet if we got stats it would be shocking.

    If you every worked with addicts you will know that even if we managed to stop people from taking out money in casinos they will find other ways to spend their welfare dollars on gambling. This is nothing more than a story about addiction.

    • Southern says:

      Yep, they’ll go to an ATM that DOES work, get the money, THEN drive to the Casino.

      They were just eliminating one step by letting the people use the cards directly in the casino.

      There’s really no way to fix this though.

  15. lehrdude says:

    Why can’t they just say. “If you used your card at a casino, you no longer qualify for welfare.”

    That would most likely stop people from gambling away their checks, and be MUCH cheaper to implement…

    • Mike says:

      Well that approach would do little to help. The people could just take out cash from the ATM at the grocery store down the street then use it to gamble. Also, many of these people are parents, and if you carte blanche take away benefits for this you could be hurting kids who are no fault here.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      Sorry, I disagree with you. Anyone on welfare who would go gamble already has a burned out logic circuit in their brain, and worse, could be an addict.

  16. strathmeyer says:

    How sad that the poor are always treated like second class citizens. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to choose what to do with their money just like everyone else?

    • mac-phisto says:

      b/c it’s not their money.

    • Mr_Human says:

      Well, let’s say a friend of yours was strapped for cash, so you gave him $100. Wouldn’t it annoy you that he spent it at a casino? Wouldn’t you feel a little had?

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Because the government is giving them the money for food and shelter. If someone is giving you money that you didn’t earn, then they certainly have the right to tell you where/how to spend it.

      I don’t feel a bit sorry for people who are on welfare and gambling. Maybe if they would stop gambling and get a job or go get an education, they could get off welfare and contribute to society instead of leeching off of it for an extended period of time.

      I have no issue with welfare as a short term stop-gap for people who really need it. But, once people start using it for something other than necessiites, they should be cut off. Yay to California for cracking the whip on this.

    • Scurvythepirate says:

      Wow that is the dumbest response to this I have read. THEY didn’t work for the money that is being handed to them to buy THEIR kids and family food, clothes, and other basic necessities because they can not afford to (or just plain to lazy to get a job). Essentially the government is making sure they don’t starve to death and you think they should be able to just go and do what they want with it?

    • Doubts42 says:

      They can do whatever they want with THEIR money. Welfare is not THEIR money. it is money stolen from the taxpayers by government force in order to subsidize someone else’s poor choices.

    • Southern says:

      So it didn’t bother you when hurricane Katrina hit and FEMA gave everyone $2,000 gift cards that (some people) used to buy expensive jewlery, 42″ Plasma TVs and various other high ticket items, instead of food, clothing & shelter, which is why the cards were handed out in the first place?

      If so, let me know and I’ll send you my address, please feel free to send $2,000 straight to me instead of giving it to the government first (through taxes) and we’ll just eliminate the middleman.

      (For the record – I didn’t take one of the FEMA cards because I didn’t need it. I have savings, which is what it’s there for.)

  17. ARP says:

    It’s bad no matter how you look at it. But what’s the overall amount paid in Welfare paid by California in the last eight months?

    Given the current mood, this could cause the rehash of Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” campiagn, where he made it seem like 75% of welfare recipients were buying luxury cars and living the high life. It was used as dog whistle racism and to to try to gut the whole system, rather than trying to reduce/eliminate fraud.

    I wonder if there’s a way to limit Cash withdrawals on link/ATM cards to certain banks or facilities (ones that are not near a Casino).

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Well, considering this was 1% of all benefits over that 8 month period, that means total benefits would be around 180 million.

      Still, the problem is that so long as they can withdraw cash, you can’t stop this sort of abuse. Cash if fungible – once you have it, its impossible to tell where it came from. Simply don’t allow for cash withdrawls – period. You must use it at a store. All their prevention abilities are tied to the debit system.

    • Pooterfish says:

      Yeah, because pointing out abuse in the system is automatically racist. Just look at that horrible racist Clinton and his welfare reform.

      • ARP says:

        Reagan made explicit reference to inner city women from the South side of Chicago, when the majority of welfare receipients at the time were white and rural. In addition, there were much larger cases of public aid fraud in “red” states, but Reagan used this semi-fictious woman for some reason. They never definitively figured out who the person was, but think it was related to a news article where a woman cheated the government out of $150,000 over a number of years- most of that money was for medical care.

    • mac-phisto says:

      i would prefer if they eliminated the ability to draw cash completely. imo, people in need of public assistance should get access to the basic necessities:
      1) food & medicine
      2) shelter
      3) clothing

      1 & 3 can easily be limited thru the use of cards. 2 can be limited by providing payments directly to landlords. there’s really no reason why a person on public assistance should need cash.

      • veritybrown says:

        Part of the problem is that food stamp/card benefits only cover FOOD–they don’t cover things like toilet paper, soap, and laundry detergent. Nor do they cover basic utility bills. That’s one reason why people are given cash welfare benefits–to cover those items. Now, utility bills could be covered by the same kind of arrangement as rent, where the company gets paid directly by the government. But the essential non-food items are a problem.

        Although it would take a lot of work initially, what would make more sense is to designate categories of items that food stamps would and would not cover. You could make toilet paper a permitted item, but make potato chips non-permitted.

        Historically, charity to the poor has been life-sustaining but not pleasant or comfortable, in order to discourage the merely lazy from taking improper advantage of it. The creation of the welfare state in America has made being on welfare a relatively comfortable lifestyle. (I read a story in the newspaper, back when my husband and I were among the “working poor,” that added up the cash value of the various available welfare benefits. Based on the information in the story, if I had taken our two small children, left my husband, and gone on welfare, I would have been financially better off. Something very wrong with that picture!) It is obvious that we give WAY too many “nice” options to those on welfare; indeed, almost the only option we *don’t* give them is a means of getting *off* welfare.

        • mac-phisto says:

          i would say that soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper & utility service are all luxuries that people on welfare should aspire to buy when they find gainful employment.

          i’m just kidding – i actually thought EBT was set up that way already in my state. i will have to investigate further & perhaps write my legislators about amending the laws. there is no real reason that a person on public assistance should need cash & as this unfortunate story shows, it can lead to undesired – & embarrassing – results.

      • Acth says:

        Don’t ride the bus much, do you….

        • mac-phisto says:

          bus & train service is public – i would much rather see the government issue monthly/quarterly/annual passes as a perk for recipients of public assistance. that’s more economical for the government anyway than a pay-per-ride system.

          keep ‘em coming – i’ve got a non-cash work-around for just about everything…

    • El Chicharron says:

      I dunno about welfare queens, but when I worked at a grocery store during high school, i noticed a large number of people would use federal food stamps, or the California equivalent, and then leave in a luxury car. Obviously it’s just circumstantial, but it always seemed fishy to me

      • Mike says:

        Be careful though, just because you see someone get into a nice car does not mean they spent big money on it. You can get a 1996 Mercedes S420 with 150,000 miles on it for $4,500. Sure the car is old, but it still looks nice if you treat it right. If you do all your own work on it, you could drive it for a couple of years and sell it for next to no loss. In fact, a welfare recipient who does that might actually end up saving money compared to someone who buys a used Kia Rio or some cheap econobox like that. People often get fooled by the badge on the car.

        • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

          Sounds to me that a Welfare recipient that knows enough about car detailing to keep it looking nice has a marketable skill and could be working as a car detailer. Why are we paying them to not work?

          • Mike says:

            Here is a list of people’s professions who I know who are out of work. some of whom are struggling to make ends meet:

            Attorneys
            Computer Programmers
            Contractors
            Electrical Engineers
            Landscape Architects
            Mechanics

            I could go on, but let’s be clear. Just because you have skills does not mean that you will never be down and out. Unemployment does not last forever, and you can be very skilled and still end up on welfare.

          • JamieSueAustin says:

            Why is minimum wage so low that someone who is working can in some instances still qualify for welfare? Why is college so expensive that more than a few people I’ve known have had to rely on welfare to afford to go back to school so that they can get out of the minimum wage market? Why is housing and food taking up OVER 70% of the household budget, making it difficult for the average person to save for emergencies? There’s all sorts of mysteries in the world.

    • Doubts42 says:

      Not wanting tax dollars taken from productive elements of society squandered for gambling, drugs, or luxuries is not racism. The racism comes from the lefties who assume that all minorities need government assistance from big brother to survive.

      And while all welfare recipients are not cheats it is a much larger percentage than many choose to admit.

      Stand and watch the line in a Wal-mart sometime. Watch the Ladies in line with 6 kids, when they can’t afford 1. Then they are on a smart phone while swiping their welfare card to pay for garbage food.

      • ARP says:

        My post had two parts to it, once was related to race, the other was related to people who use these sorts of incidents to eliminate a whole system rather than try to fix it.

      • dadelus says:

        Nice Stereotype there but that’s not how it always plays out.

        When I lived in St Louis, Missouri there was an article in a newsmagazine in the affluent West County area that talked about families who owned big houses with nice cars and both parents had high paying jobs. The problem was that even with these jobs they couldn’t afford food for their families because of all the expensive things they had to keep buying to maintain the illusion that they were doing well. The whole article was about how the county had set up a food pantry that delivered food to these poor souls. The deliveries came in plain paper bags so it looked like they were getting groceries delivered rather then receiving charity.

        The whole tone of the article was about how we should feel sorry for these poor souls who were trying SOOO hard to keep up appearances. That was even the title of the article, “Keeping up Appearances.”

      • Pax says:

        Squandering? On “luxuries” …?

        First, define how much spent on these “luxuries”, by one person, in one month, constitutes “squandering”.

        $200? $100? $50? $10? $1? $0.01?

        Second, define “luxuries”. Does a paperback novel from Borders (or similar) count as a luxury? How about a TV set? And then, how about Basic or Extended Basic Cable TV? How about a land-line Telephone? How about a computer? And an ISP to go with it? What about going to see a movie (matinee, on the cheapest day of the week) …? How about buying a toy for your kid(s)?

        • Arthur Pennant says:

          Yeah, a paperback book is a luxury. Libraries are free. Now buying books for little kids sometimes convinces kids to read where library books wouldn’t. It worked for my little brother. There’s a legitimate purpose in encouraging literacy. On the other hand, borrowing or getting books from friends and family seems to work at least as well, anecdotally. It’d be interesting to see a study on this. As for oneself? Grow up and go to the library.

          And cable and and television aren’t luxuries? What are they then, necessities of life?
          I never had cable growing up. My parents (a lawyer and a computer scientist) could afford it, but they didn’t think it was worth the expense, or something kids needed. And I don’t need a television either. I’ve got friends who grew up without any TV, and they turned out fine.

          Now, mobile phones, computers, internet, and cars, are a bit different. In this day and age the first two are essential for business purposes, and the latter are as well if you live outside an urban area, or in LA. All of these have legitimate purposes for reducing dependency.

  18. Enduro says:

    How much of that money was wasted on ATM fees alone? Casino ATMs are not cheap.

    What a bunch of idiots/selfish crooks. Government needs a way to limit what/where you can spend these things and stop access to ATMs where you can get freewheelin’ cash seems like a good start.

    • ARP says:

      Most welfare “cards” can only be used in stores on “approved” items and only a small amount of cash is available.

  19. Blitzgal says:

    How many millions of taxpayer bailout dollars are banks using to pay for their employees bonuses and trips to expensive resorts?

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Well, considering the administration says most of the funds have been repaid, with interest, that’s kind of a moot point. Nice strawman argument though.

  20. evnmorlo says:

    Just start a new program letting welfare recipients choose cash or double their benefit in scratch tickets.

  21. CapitalistPig says:

    The real easy way to fix this is to deduct back the 1.8million from future payments to those recipients that used the card in the casino in the first place. Shouldn’t be too hard to track them down, and I doubt anyone would have a problem with this approach…

  22. tinmanx says:

    Just don’t allow them to take out cash. Problem solved.

  23. HalOfBorg says:

    The order to only use it properly is dumb, and the requirement for them to give it back is dumber, unless the law said they couldn’t do it that way in the first place, which is obviously doesn’t.

    They didn’t break any rules, so why give it back??

  24. Sarcastico says:

    Why don’t they just tax it back? Convenience tax. Any withdrawals on welfare debit cards from ATMs at casinos automatically taxed at 50%.

  25. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    I *LOVE* that they’re going to try to recover funds. These people never thought they would have to pay this “free money” back. WOOO!!

  26. CapitalistPig says:

    Example #567 of why our government is now leveraged like some third world banana republic.

    • ARP says:

      What percentage of Calofornia’s budget is spent on Welfare? It’s about $1b What percentage of our budget is spent on subsidies (not tax breaks, subsidies) for Hollywood? About $100M. Also, how much would it cost to build the prisons for that percentage of people that will resort to crime?

  27. Vanilla5 says:

    I think something definitely needs to be done about the EBT/debit welfare card system (Is it called EBT everywhere? I know it is in MO). Some people say go back to paper food stamps and people will go back to selling them for cash. But I’ve personally known people who are on EBT and will go and pull all the $ out from an ATM under the “CASH” part of the card, and then hand their card and PIN # over to people who are not on EBT in exchange for cash and that person goes to the grocery store and use the “FOOD” part of the card. Say, they have $100 on the FOOD part – they let the person give them like $65 cash for it. They just have to bring the card back.

    This happens A LOT.

  28. Beeker26 says:

    I’m not sure I understand the problem here. While I agree is seems unsavory to read about how people receiving welfare (the article states welfare, which is NOT the same as food stamps) are allegedly spending their money in casinos, at what point do you draw the line as to one’s personal freedoms?

    I mean, maybe they’re gambling. But maybe they’re buying cigarettes. We don’t know exactly what they’re doing. And even if they are gambling it’s their choice. Would you also like to bar recipients from spending their money on lottery tickets? Force them to shop only at Wal-Mart? Take their cars away so they don’t do any “unnecessary” spending (they can take the bus, if they really need to go some place right?) Make it illegal to go see a movie?

    Where exactly do you draw the line? When is it acceptable to dictate to someone how they spend their money?

    • Vanilla5 says:

      I see what you’re saying – but these cards have it to where (in some states) food stamps and welfare (TANF, in Missouri) are merged together. Also, this isn’t necessarily their money. It’s given to them by the government (from taxpayer dollars) to temporarily sustain them until they are able to get back on their feet and no longer need it. It’s not their money as in income earned from a job. They’re supposed to be in a hard spot or bad situation right now in life and this is supposed to help them through.

      Casinos are a frivolous luxury for people who are supposed to be in such a hard spot that they need the government to help sustain their everyday life. I know people who have been on welfare so long that they adjust their life TO welfare so that they can stay on it. This is abuse of the system – and so are casinos. You ask the question where is the line? I couldn’t tell you exactly, but I’m pretty sure casinos are OVER that line.

      • Pax says:

        *ahem*

        Some of us receiving public assistance of one form or another, will *NEVER* “to get back on [our] feet”.

        There’s no distinction drawn between hopefully-temporary recipients, and permanent recipients. I’ll bet dollars to donuts any restriction placed on benefits to control “temporary” recipients, would also limit _permanent_ recipients.

        Further – once the government gives them those cash benefits? It _IS_ their money. The government cannot take it back, except via an act of Due Process.

    • veritybrown says:

      If it were “their” money, that they personally earned, they could spend it however they pleased, as far as I’m concerned. But it isn’t really “their” money. The only reason they have this cash in hand is because the state of California said, “Even though we know that you’re too irresponsible to provide for yourself, here, have some money to use on *anything* you want!” and inappropriately gave them a handout from the taxpayers’ pockets.

      Where do we draw the line? When it comes to welfare from the government, is a very simple line: they get shelter, basic utilities (water/sewer, electricity, heat, and local phone service), essential groceries (food, soap, toilet paper, etc.), and essential medical care. If they want anything else, they need to get off their duffs and work for it, or else persuade a friend, family member, or church to give them whatever “extras” they’re wanting.

      I suspect that way too many people (who have never even been close to being poor) don’t understand what the welfare lifestyle is really like in this country. Let me draw you the picture as I have *personally* seen it, living (in a “working poor” household) side by side with welfare recipients in the inner city:

      Female welfare recipients start popping out babies in their teens, and continue to do so as long as they are fertile, because this ensures that welfare benefits continue. Because an adult male household member is a liability (they’re expected to get a job, which would mean the end of welfare benefits), men drift from one baby-mama’s house to the next (for food, shelter, and sex), often picking up cash to spend by working occasionally for under-the-table wages or by dealing drugs or by stealing. Cash benefits may or may not be spent on essential living expenses. Food benefits usually amount to a lot more than the family actually needs (ours always did, during the brief unemployment periods when we got them), but even if they don’t, most get traded away for cash or drugs, leaving the children hungry. Cable TV, fancy cell phones, lotto tickets, booze, drugs, and cigarettes are more important than feeding the kids. The food that *is* bought (frequently junk food) often comes from convenience stores, where it costs twice as much as food at a regular grocery store. Education is devalued in this culture–the sooner you leave school and start participating in perpetuating the lifestyle, the better off your family will be.

      Want a more specific example? Down the street from us lived a “welfare grandma” with one of her daughters and an assortment of seven or eight grandchildren (ranging from toddlers to teenagers) who had nowhere else to live except with her. As soon as she got her cash benefits at the beginning of the month, it was off to the casino to gamble them away. One of the grandchildren was a boy around the same age as my sons. Neither his mother nor his father were in his life, but between them he had a total of 19 half-siblings. He liked to hang out at our house because we fed him (which didn’t always happen at home), but his grandma didn’t like him to be our house (I was never sure if she objected most to our religious beliefs, our skin color, or both). But this boy was hungry for more than food–he wanted OUT of that lifestyle. Sadly, with his family against him (his older brothers were already trying to drag him into a life of crime), and with our ability to give him any help limited by his grandma’s prejudices, he didn’t have a chance.

  29. Joe_lovz_buying says:

    This truly makes me sad. I’m sure this will be used as justification to make sure that no one in need will get aid. So many people need help; In California in this economy it’s a great need.

  30. jayde_drag0n says:

    because i feel the need to clarify this. An EBT card has 2 things on it.. emergency Cash aid (in the total WHOPPING amount of $200 and Food stamps. you CANNOT use FOOD stamps in a casino folks. you cannot withdraw food stamps as cash either! you can only withdraw cash from the CASH portion of your benefits. Now after that.. the figures shown doesn’t say how many PEOPLE are doing it.. only how much money.. You do know older grandparents get social security and welfare and food stamps right?? How many of those people were grannies playing bingo? you DO know they play bingo there.. ALSO you DO know that california has a LOT of people in it, if 13,850 people were the ones who spent that money.. you know that means about $20 a person in a month? OOOOOOOOOOHHHH *makes fake shocked horror face* I cannot believe that disgusting grandma spent $20 on bingo and soda!!! how HORRID she should DIE!!! gah you people and your fucking assumptions

  31. dangerp says:

    Welfare has always been a touchy subject, with plenty of merit on both sides on the conversation. I’m tenuously in support of well managed, short term welfare with oversight. But something like this really makes my blood boil, as I imagine it does anyone paying taxes. These a$$holes are ruining it for those fallen on hard times that are just trying to get back on their feet.

    Full disclosure, I have had close family that were on welfare before. Only for a short period (less than a year, I think), and only until they could take care of their basic needs on their own. And they have more than repayed their debt to society since. It’s these types of people that should get it. Not problem gamblers.

  32. Pax says:

    I don’t see the problem with where those people spent their benefits money. I really don’t.

    And I think Governor Arnie needs to get his head out of his ass, and rescind that “[only] meet […] basic subsistence needs” bullshite.

    I’ll bet most of the people here who agree with him are, like Governor Schwarzenegger himself, probably people who have never BEEN on public assistance benefits long-term. Well, I live on a fixed, low income in the form of … drum roll, please … *disability benefits*.

    And, what … are people who’re on benefits supposed to sit in a corner, and watch paint dry, all day? Are benefits supposed to switch off the BASIC SUBSISTENCE NEEDS that are “entertainment” and “hope” …? Ask any healthcare professional worth their license, and they’ll agree that MENTAL HEALTH needs input and maintenance, too.

    Now, if some of those individuals were gambling a large portion of thier personal benefits amount? That may be a case where throwing up a red flag is appropriate.

    But, an average of 1% across the entire state? PFAUGH. Insignificant to the point of being laughable.

    Here in Massachusetts, your average SSI recipient, living alone, receives just under $800 per month. 1% of that is $8. That is, on average, slightly less than two $1 lottery tickets a week; less than a pack of cigarettes – even the cheapest, vilest brand around; a single round-trip busfare; enough deli meat, cheese, and bread to make one, maybe two sandwiches.

    Those who don’t qualify for SSI, but still qualify for state-only benefits, gt half that much. Which means, hey maybe these people are buying ONE “PowerBall” ticket a week.

    So, what’s so wrong with a _little_ bit of gambling, in _moderation_ …? Sure, sure, there’s probably a few folks who’re gambling 1/4 or 1/2 their benefits, and they PERSONALLY shoudl be shut off. But I’ll bet you there’s a whole lot of folks gambling $5 or $10 per month on average. Even if they gamble $20 a month … SO WHAT?

    If that’s how they choose to entertain themselves, if that’s where they elect to pin their hopes of getting OFF of benefits … let them.

    And hey, if they win? NO MORE BENEFITS. They won’t need ‘em, not for YEARS at least. Instead, they’ll be paying taxes … LOTS of taxes. And buying things, which are then taxed _further_.

    A lot of people, though, seem to have the attitude that anyone receiving benefits should have their meal, have their place to sleep, and the rest of the time … just sit quietly out of the way. Stare at a wall, or watch clouds, or something.

    Which simply doesn’t work. The human mind cannot survive that level of inactivity. The result of trying would be a deranged lunatic, and wouldn’t THAT make for lovely headlines?

    • madanthony says:

      If they expect to win their way off welfare, may I suggest they spend their money on a basic math class?

      • Pax says:

        Ignoring the facetiousness of your remark … have you looked at what taking ANY sort of class happens to cost, lately?

        Throwing $1 or $2 a week at a lottery isn’t excessive. Sure, the odds are long – but, there ARE winners out there … or there wouldn’t be lotteries anymore.

        • veritybrown says:

          If you are poor, the government will give you FREE MONEY in the form of Pell Grants to go to school. So, not so facetious.

          • Pax says:

            Pell grants aren’t unlimited, aren’t free of their own requirements, and aren’t available for all schools or forms of education.

    • veritybrown says:

      Wow, Pax, you need a course in reality! Whatever kind of windfall people get, they tend to spend it in such a way that they return quickly to the financial circumstances they are accustomed to. Most big lotto winners are just as broke, within five years, as they were before they won. So even if a person on welfare, AGAINST THE MATHEMATICAL ODDS, wins big at the casino, chances are they’ll be back on welfare just as soon as they’ve blown through the money.

      Also, don’t pretend to understand any of this just because you live on disability benefits–disability is quite a different thing from regular welfare. Just because you need some expensive form of entertainment (like the internet?) to avoid going crazy staring at the wall, that doesn’t mean that able-bodied welfare recipients do. There are parks and libraries, free for everyone. TV used to be cheap–you could pick up an old set for a few bucks–but the whole digital switchover has changed that. Radio is still free, however. Miraculously, my parents’ generation survived the Depression, without money for entertainment, yet without going crazy!

      You make it sound as if scratching lotto tickets and going to the casino are the only entertainment options that poor people have. That’s a crock! You also make it sound as if taxpayers have no right to control how THEIR money is being spent. That is also a crock. Giving food and shelter to the poor is an act of charity. Handing out no-strings-attached cash to people who are in the habit of making such bad choices that they think nothing of spending the rent money at the casino is an act of sheer idiocy.

      You talk about “hope,” but how many people on welfare have *any* hope of getting off it? The majority of people on welfare are stuck there because they are financially better off than if they got a job (especially the kind of minimum wage job that most of them would qualify for). By making welfare comfortable, we encourage people to stay in that lifestyle. The only way out is moral determination (to work rather than live at the expense of others) and/or sufficient education to qualify for a job that pays more than the cash value of combined welfare benefits. Neither gambling (in any form) nor “entertainment” (of any kind) will give a person on welfare what they need in order to get off it.

  33. madanthony says:

    I guess it’s theoretically possible that some people may have used it a casino ATM but not gambled what they took out at the casino.

    After all, I’ve used ATM’s at 7-11 but haven’t spent all the money on Slurpees. (7-11 atm’s are in network for my credit union).

  34. dilbert69 says:

    What difference does it make where the ATM is located? If I can’t withdraw money at a casino, I’ll withdraw it at a bank and carry it to the casino. If I withdraw it at the casino and have a winning session, I’ll spend it on food and toilet paper. Big deal.

  35. Vanilla5 says:

    I think there’s a lot of confusion in these comments. I think some people don’t realize that there are lots of different kinds of benefits.

    SSI shouldn’t even come into the conversation – you pay into that by WORKING all your life. This $1.8MIL wasn’t from SSI at all.

    EBT has two parts: CASH and FOOD. You can go to the ATM and withdraw however much CASH is allotted to you on the card each month. With FOOD – you can only use that at stores that accept EBT and it’s used like a debit card to pay for approved food items. You can’t withdraw money at the ATM from the FOOD portion.

  36. DD_838 says:

    I don’t know how they are going to recover the money. Just because a person withdrew money at an ATM located inside a casino does not mean that they actually spent they money inside the casino.

    Every one will claim this defense (in some cases it may even be true) and it would be pretty hard to prove otherwise. Especially cause, welfare or not, Americans do have a right to privacy.

    • Randy says:

      I am not a gambler , but I do go too the casinos for the dinning and shows . I would think a $5 casino buffet meal would not be to much of a waste of food stamp dollars In fact it could be a money saving value .

      Bottom line is it is social profiling ( I guess that’s acceptable has long has race isn’t a issue) to assume that just because you withdraw cash at the casino means you are gambling it all away .

  37. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    You should be able to withdraw cash from your welfare. Absolutely not, no way, and California is dumb for allowing this. How is it that ALABAMA has this down and California doesn’t?

    • Pax says:

      So … how do welfare recipients in Alabama pay their rent? Or are they all expected to be homeless …??

  38. Lear100 says:

    For the first time in my life, I agree with the Republicans.

  39. Blious says:

    Doesn’t shock me. I rarely go to casinos but the 1-2 times I do go in a year….it is depressing seeing people who are obviously quite poor spending their probable paychecks on gambling

    Just makes you feel a bit sick that they are gambling their only money away for something they are not going to get (i.e. more money)

  40. peebozi says:

    I’m sure this is the biggest waste of taxpayer money.

    Also, they would waste more taxpayer money attempting to prove these recipients used the money for gambling…or that it is even illegal to do so. if it is expressly illegal they’d still waste more proving it.

    Plus, will the government only ask back for the portion that wasn’t taxed, as they already received some tax revenue. hmmmmmmm.

  41. dwtomek says:

    Wow. I am nearly left speechless at the amount of sympathy here for those fine folks spending “their” money in a wasteful way. I really don’t even know what to say. Well I guess I could say that I like to spend some of my money on gambling…but it would make it a lot more enjoyable to spend “my” money instead.

  42. Michael Powell says:

    Maybe the governor should just start considering this a subsidy for California’s gambling industry.

  43. shibblegritz says:

    OK, libs … I *really* want to hear your stammering excuses on this one.

    Involuntary wealth distribution to individuals who must do nothing to earn it results in a permanent poverty class indebted to the government for what meager existence they have. I don’t think it’s precisely what “progressive” leaders want, but it’s what they end up with and I suspect they’re not entirely unhappy catering to that voting bloc to keep themselves in power.

    I’ll happily give money to a hard-charging minister who demands the people whom his church helps help themselves first and foremost. I’ll never happily give money to a government that, at most, demands its people stand in line every so often.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      I’m not a lib, but I think you should read some of the comments further afield, describing some of the tasks/jobs people need to do in order to get their benefits.

      I am not ashamed to tell you also, that a decade ago, *I* had to file for unemployment in California, and of course, received benefits from the amount I paid into the system. I had to prove how hard I looked for work, and brother, I looked hard. Having also filed local, state and business taxes in California, all of which required copious forms, I wouldn’t doubt that the welfare system there also has a lot of paperwork to fill out.

      • shibblegritz says:

        I don’t have a problem with providing benefits to people who need help. What I have is a problem with providing benefits to people who need help and then not demanding that the do anything to improve their chances of self-sufficiency, or at the very least helping pay back their benefits with some form of labor.

        What’s wrong with asking people on unemployment to work at government offices a couple of days a week?

        What’s wrong with making taking public assistance something people should be a little embarrassed about?

        It’s one thing if you’re too old, too sick or disabled and you can’t work. But if you’re able bodied and your mind is functioning well enough to be out walking around free, then you should be helping pay for the benefits you receive, even if it’s just picking up cigarette butts.

        There’s dignity in poverty, but the dignity is in determined self-sufficiency, not a lard-assed willingness to rely on getting your subsistence from government pointing a gun at people who hustle every day to make money … then going off and spending at least part of that money on gambling.

        If I were in charge, every damn one of those people who spent their benefits on gambling would be charged with misappropriation of public funds, forever banned from public assistance and I’d seize all the minor children and put them in families who actually might give a damn about them.

  44. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    Wow. That is crazy. We are doing fine financially and like to play video poker… but I didn’t even buy a lottery ticket for almost five years. I just couldn’t justify spending even pocket change like that, with the economy like this and our expenses buying then settling in our house.

  45. Ixnayer says:

    The saddest thing is that this didn’t shock me at all, I have come to accept nothing less from California.

  46. Carlee says:

    I was at a fast food place recently (Carl’s Jr, I think?) and they had a sign announcing that they now accept EBT cards. Except there are certain restrictions (I think one was that the person had to be either elderly or disabled). This was in California.

    I’ve also seen a restaurant (haven’t been inside so I don’t know how much of a sit-down restaurant it is) that had a sign outside stating that they accept EBT cards.

  47. nacoran says:

    A lot of people on welfare play lotteries and gamble. The thing is, your not allowed to have much money and still get benefits. If you are having problems finding work and you lose your benefits if you have too much money in the bank you don’t have many options. So what do you do? Do you take a shot and maybe win or give up hope? These aren’t people who are going to be able to get rich any other way. Say they want to save up for a car so they can get to a job. If they keep the money in the bank their benefits get reduced and they have to take the money out of the bank to pay their bills. Or they can gamble. Most of the time they lose, but if they win (and if you play the lottery enough you’ve got a shot at winning more than what they’ll let you keep in the bank. Most heavy gamblers I’ve met have had a couple payouts that could cover the cost of a used car. Sure they’ve lost more than that, but the bank limits for Welfare give them better odds.)

    Obviously, they aren’t very likely to get rich this way, but if they are willing to go without something else, who cares. So, you don’t let them take money out of ATM’s at casinos. They’ll take out cash and go anyway. Welfare is already means tested and there are better ways to deal with problem gamblers. Or how about let people on Welfare have emergency funds they can set money aside in.

  48. PupJet says:

    My partner works in a store that sells food. He says that even though people are on EBT/Food Stamps, they won’t buy the basic staples (milk, eggs, bread, etc…) but instead will buy junk food (candy, sweets, etc…)!

    I am on Food Stamps here in Ohio and I get $200/month. The first thing I get is basics (meats, salt, pepper, bread, eggs, milk, coffee, etc….) which comes out to USUALLY $75-$100 but lasts us all month long. I like doing it that way because it leaves enough for staple items that we use the most. Occasionally I will get a candy bar or soda, but would rather opt for actual food and juice.

    Okay, granted it’s NOT the same thing overall, it is however the appropriate way to use taxpayer funded resources because that is what the taxpayers are paying into! Personally I would rather be working, but unemployment here is still high (over 10%).

    So to all you welfare scammers out there, get a clue, get a grip, and quit wasting taxpayer dollars either that or else get off of it so the ones that REALLY need it can have it!

  49. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Shouldn’t this activity be encouraged? State governments have rolled out the red carpet to mob-owned casinos so they can take back some of the proceeds in fees and taxes. Seems the government is just getting back the money they gave away in the first place.

  50. DragonThermo says:

    Instead of putting annoying banner ads on license plates, how about cutting everyone’s welfare payments by 1%. Clearly, the state is overpaying by (at least) 1%, so the lazy people won’t miss it. Maybe they’ll get a part-time job or scavenge for aluminum cans for their casino money?