Welfare Cards, Bingo Halls and Strip Clubs !

Financial experts say that people hurting for money should stay away from Bingo halls, liquor stores, tattoo parlors and casinos. As it turns out a recent investigation in Louisiana showed that many welfare recipients are spending large amounts of cash at these businesses.  Every month the state of Louisiana gives about 7,000 families a Louisiana Purchase card. The card works exactly like a debit card from a bank; welfare recipients can swipe the card at ATM’s and make cash withdrawals and purchases. Every month the state loads the cards like clockwork. An investigation by Fox News found numerous examples of abuse and waste.

Investigators reviewed six months of records from the welfare system. One example showed that at 12:04 AM a person in the welfare system withdrew $40 at an ATM outside of Little Darlings on Bourbon Street—a well known strip club. 20 minutes later the same person withdrew an additional $20 at another Bourbon Street strip club. Investigators said that this was not the only example of public money being spent at strip clubs. Louisiana state representative Cameron Henry told reporters “It would be very difficult for someone to sit there and argue why they needed to be able to go to a strip club with a welfare card.”

In December 2010 another welfare recipient withdrew $100 at the fairgrounds and an hour later withdrew another $100. Representative Henry stated “It goes against the whole purpose of the welfare process. You’re there because you have some serious financial needs, to be in that system, and yet you’re going to the Fair Grounds. You shouldn’t have it if you are going to the Fair Grounds, to be perfectly honest with you.”

Bingo halls are also popular places to use electronic benefit cards. A few withdrawals were made at casinos. Since a recent DOJ ruling cleared the way for individual states of offer internet gambling to residents lawmakers want measures in place to prevent the use of benefits cards at internet bingo sites and online casinos. Fortunately the technology is already in place at several British online bingo sites and could serve as a template for American gaming sites. Days after the report Steve Scalise a congressman from Louisiana co-sponsored a bill with another Louisiana representative, Charles Boustany that would place restrictions where welfare clients can spend their cash. The bill would prohibit the use of benefit cards at strip clubs, casinos, and bars. The report sparked widespread public outrage and legislators are moving quickly to close the loopholes that allow the improper use of benefit cards.