AUGUST 20, 2010
Millions of dollars in welfare funds have for years been withdrawn from automated teller machines in casinos, strip clubs and other gambling establishments in
Since at least 2006 the state’s Department of Social Services has failed to notice that welfare recipients withdrew nearly $5 million from ATMs inside gambling venues and strip clubs. More appalling is that the California Gambling Control Commission, which oversees non-Indian tribe gaming rooms, has known about the banned practice for years but hasn’t bothered to take action.
In a recent seventh-month period $1.8 million in public assistance was withdrawn from cash machines on casino floors, according the newspaper that broke the story earlier this year. That’s because the state-issued cards, intended to help feed and clothe poor families, work in ATMs at more than half of the state’s 58 Indian tribal casinos and 47 of 90 state-licensed poker rooms. They also work at a variety of “gentlemen’s” clubs.
California’s governor seemed outraged that public funds earmarked for the poor were being gambled away and quickly issued a laughable executive order requiring welfare recipients to pledge they’ll use the taxpayer cash only to “meet the basic subsistence needs” of their families. The order also demands that the state agency that issues the money produce a plan to root out waste, fraud and abuse in the welfare program. It may be a little too late for the (not so)
It turns out that the whole thing was a dog and pony show for the media. This week a news report reveals that the agency (Gambling Control Commission) responsible for preventing welfare recipients from collecting their public cash in gambling establishments was appointed by the governor and that he likely knew about the abuse. Even after the commission officially passed a regulation to ban the practice last year, it didn’t bother enforcing it.
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