Welfare recipients access ATM machines (in casinos)
June 24, 2010
A new statewide review has discovered that California welfare recipients are able to use state-issued debit cards to withdraw cash on gaming floors in more than half the casinos in California. [LA Times]
An investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that the cards, issued by the Department of Social Services to help feed and clothe families, worked in ATMs at 32 of 58 tribal casinos and 47 of the 90 state-licensed poker rooms.
State officials announced Wednesday that they are trying to determine how much money was withdrawn from the casino machines. Initial projections suggest as much as $1.8 million was withdrawn in just the last eight months. They also pledged to take steps to block further ATM usage.
“We have instructed our vendors to prohibit these cards from being accepted at ATMs located in casinos and card rooms,” Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said Wednesday. “It is reprehensible that anyone would use taxpayer money for anything other than its intended purpose.”
The casinos are listed on a Department of Social Services website that allows welfare recipients to search for addresses of ATMs where they can withdraw cash provided under the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program. The monthly grant ranges up to $694; most of the ATMs impose a withdrawal limit of about $300 per day.