Welfare benefits are meant to help struggling families put food on the table, to pay their rent and other bills. But some out there are spending these government funds at the casino or the liquor store.
A new bill just passed by Missouri lawmakers would make it a crime for welfare recipients to gamble or drink away the money.
Missouri lawmakers are trying to cut down on welfare fraud. And they have to. If the Governor does not sign the bill, Missouri risks losing some of its federal funding for the welfare program.
If approved by Governor Nixon, any welfare recipient who uses welfare funds at a casino or liquor store would have to pay back what they spent, plus they face criminal charges and a fine.
Those casino and liquor store workers who knowingly accept welfare benefits could face jail time.
But here’s the problem.
Those on welfare get their benefits put on an EBT card. It’s a bank card they can use at stores and ATMs.
Lawmakers admit it’ll be hard for them to track down how welfare recipients use these funds if they take the cash out of the ATM and then go to the casino or liquor store.
It is worth stating, though, that the ATM’s inside casinos do not accept EBT cards, so welfare recipients have to go somewhere else to pull out these funds.
Will it stop welfare fraud?
No, but lawmakers believe it is a step int he right direction, and they hope more than anything, it will encourage those on welfare to use the money wisely and encourage casinos and liquor store owners to turn in those who do abuse the system.
If the Governor sings this bill, it would go into effect on August 28, 2013.