Welfare recipients withdrew $1.8 million from California casinos and card rooms between October and May, the Department of Social Services said Thursday.
The data release came after the Los Angeles Times determined that more than half of automated teller machines at California gambling venues gave welfare recipients access to cash through state-issued debit cards. The CalWORKs program is designed to provide money to low-income families for housing, food and clothing.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order Thursday to block cash access for welfare recipients at gambling sites in California.
"I urge the Legislature to pass more aggressive laws preventing benefit recipients from withdrawing cash assistance at casino and other gambling location ATMs that I will sign as soon as it hits my desk," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
The Times found that 32 of 58 tribal casinos and 47 of 90 card rooms housed ATMs that gave CalWORKs participants cash. Over eight months, the Department of Social Services data showed that welfare recipients withdrew $1.7 million at tribal casinos and $82,906 at card rooms.
That represents a sliver of the $2.38 billion CalWORKs recipients withdrew over that same period. More than half of the program's money comes from federal funds.
The Republican governor proposed eliminating CalWORKs in his May budget as a way to help bridge the state's $19.1 billion deficit. Democrats have vowed to block his wholesale elimination, but they said they support his executive order.
"We will conduct timely legislative oversight," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, in a statement. "We want to make sure all families are spending the money on the children it's intended to serve."
Note only california is paying for this, I just thought it should be brought to there attention.