$1.8 million spent in Casinos by welfare recipients

California governor bars use of state-issued debit cards at casino ATMs

Welfare recipients in California have been using their state-issued debit cards to draw cash for gambling at casino ATMs, Associated Press has revealed in a report this week.

The story was originally broken by the Los Angeles Times, which exposed the use of CalWORKS debit cards for gambling at more than half the licensed land casinos in the state. The newspaper’s investigation showed that since October last year welfare recipients have withdrawn more than $1.8 million in taxpayer handouts at casinos.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been quick to react, issuing an executive order barring California welfare recipients from using state-issued debit cards at casino ATMs. The governor’s order requires welfare recipients to sign a pledge that they will use their benefits only to meet the basic needs of their families.

It also gives the state Department of Social Services seven days to develop a plan to reduce other "waste, fraud and abuse" in the welfare program.

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