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Nov
9th

No Welfare Cards at Bingo Halls, Says Schwarzenegger

California is one of the most generous states when it comes to welfare benefits. Until recently welfare recipients could get psychic readings, buy medical marijuana, get bail bonds, buy guns, visit a massage parlor, go on a cruise and could also play bingo. All that came to a screeching halt after governor Arnold Schwarzenegger banned the use of welfare debit cards at these facilities. A Los Angeles Times report said that the Schwarzenegger administration informed county welfare directors that ATM’s and point of sale card readers would no longer be on the list of approved facilities for California’s Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.

The welfare cards are meant for necessities and are not approved for gambling which includes bingo. The LA Times reported that $69 million dollars of California welfare money was spent out of state and $12 million was spent in Las Vegas. Florida was another hot spot for welfare recipients and $1.2 million was spent in the state, some on cruise ships sailing from Miami. The LA Times report provoked outrage and prompted the crackdown. California has a long history of welfare abuses and taxpayers want the abuses to stop. So far there are no figures to indicate how much the ban has affected bingo halls throughout the state.

Bingo halls are a popular destination in California and many Native American tribes have set up massive bingo halls offering high stakes bingo. For many tribes bingo has provided desperately needed jobs at a living wage and has enabled several tribes to build schools and clinics. In 2009 Governor Schwarzenegger banned electronic bingo machines at charitable bingo games leaving Native American casinos as the sole provider of electronic bingo in the state. Many charities depend on the e bingo machines to keep their non profits afloat.

The largest casino in California is the Pechanga Resort and Casino located in Temecula. The massive casino has 3,400 slot and electronic bingo machines and is about 188,000 square feet of gaming space. Other tribes in the state have built similar sized casinos to mixed receptions but bingo remains a major draw for tourists. Unfortunately, for welfare recipients the casinos and bingo halls will be off limits in the future.

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