Are Welfare Recipients in California Gambling Away Their Money?


According to a special news report by the LA Times, California welfare recipients are able to use their state-issued debit cards to withdraw cash on casino floors in more than half of the gaming houses in the state. The cards are supposed to be used to help feed, clothe and house the recipients and their families. In other words, the money derived from taxpayer dollars isn’t supposed to be used to gamble.

“We have instructed our vendors to prohibit these cards from being accepted at ATMs located in casinos and card rooms,” Gov. Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said Wednesday. “It is reprehensible that anyone would use taxpayer money for anything other than its intended purpose.” Seth Unger, spokesman for the California Assembly Republicans said “In a time when we have a $19-billion deficit, and we’re taking a serious look at the future of many safety-net programs, it’s appalling to think that welfare beneficiaries can use their cards in a casino.”

The casino withdrawals totaled up to over $1.8 million in the period from October, 2009 and May, 2010 – just eight short months. This only represents about 1% of total welfare spending in California, and averaged just over $227,392 a month.

That’s an awful lot of wasted money taken away from children who likely are now going without basic necessities so their parents can have some fun at the local casino.