Cuomo Budget Bans Welfare Bucks at Casinos

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget includes a measure that would prohibit welfare recipients from using benefits at casinos and strip clubs. The rule is tied to federal funds.

Critic says ban is unfair

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget plan prohibits the use of welfare cards at strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos.

According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, both the card holder and the venue would be punished for allowing Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, or EBTs, to be used illicitly. The proposed ban is in accordance with the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which requires that states crack down on fraud in order to receive certain benefits.

“These reforms will help ensure that public assistance is used as intended: to ensure the least fortunate among us are able to access food, shelter and heat while limiting potential abuse and conforming with upcoming federal standards,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.

The punishment includes the suspension of benefits to recipients who use a card at an unauthorized location. Liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs would be fined, and could face misdemeanor charges for multiple violations.

Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, said the regulations are unfair.

“I think it is a distraction from the real problem, which is New York is facing record hunger right now,” Deutsch said. “I say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If you want to prohibit people from using public money at establishments like this, then I think we should be prohibiting lawmakers from using their public money at the same establishments.”

The state has until February 22 to report “policies and practices” on the matter to Washington. If it misses the deadline, the federal government could cut its benefits payments by 5 percent, or $120 million annually, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.