Gov Vows to Stop Welfare Cards Used for Casino Cash

By Greg Bledsoe
|  Friday, Jun 25, 2010  |  Updated 7:55 AM PDT
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Turn Welfare Cards into Casino Cash

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Turn Welfare Cards into Casino Cash

At more than half of the casinos in California, including four in San Diego county, welfare recipients are able to withdrawal money from ATMs using state-issued debit cards.
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One of the casinos listed on a state website as accepting welfare ATM cards said they have never given cash in exchange for the state-issued assistance cards.

A new report shows that money designated as part of the state's welfare program is being accepted by casinos, including some here in San Diego.

Stump's Family Market in Point Loma welcomes even those who may not have the cash to pay for their groceries.

" Every day. Every day. I don't think there's not a couple hours that go by where people don't come in," said employee Bennett Robinson.

Robinson is talking about customers who use the State's EBT card, a modern day food stamp that works like a debit card, in some cases able to get actual cash and at more than just the grocery store.

"I don't know how this happened, or who regulated or who said the okay for casinos," Robinson said.

According to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, dozens of casinos around the state have ATM's that accept the EBT cards.

The Times crosschecked ATM addresses on the Department of Social Services website with addresses on the California Gambling Control Commission's website. So far, state officials have been unable to determine how much money has been withdrawn, the Times reported.

The report found that the cards worked at 32 of 58 tribal casinos and 47 of 90 state-licensed poker rooms.

The state's website lists four casino addresses here in San Diego including In San Diego, Pala Casino Spa Resort, Golden Acorn Casino, Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino and Sycuan Casino, which claims the site's mistaken.

The governor's office said it found out from a reporter.

"Something that we had no idea was happening, and now that we do, we've taken steps to immediately fix it," said Aaron Mclear, a governor's spokesperson.  

"We have instructed our vendors to prohibit these cards from being accepted at ATMs located in casinos and card rooms," said

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

's spokesman

Aaron McLear

.

"It is reprehensible that anyone would use taxpayer money for anything other than its intended purpose," McLear said.

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