St. Lawrence County state senators vote for ban of Food Stamp cards for ATM withdrawals in liquor stores, casinos, strip clubs
Apparently there is no law preventing people from using EBT cards with Food Stamp money at ATMs in liquor stores, gambling halls, and adult entertainment venues, which the state Senate wants to change.
All three state senators that represent parts of St. Lawrence County – Sens. Griffo, Little and Ritchie -- voted in favor of the measure.The bill hopes to stem abuse by preventing welfare recipients from using their EBT cards to make ATM withdrawals from places such as liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs, according to Ritchie.
By a vote of 52-10, the Senate has passed Bill S966, which “prohibits the purchase or sale of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or lottery tickets with public assistance benefits; establishes penalties for violation;” along with other provisions.
The goal of EBT cards, which carry SNAP, or “Food Stamp” benefits, is to be part of a group of measures to help families with the basics such as rent, and in this case food, on their way to self-sufficiency.
But recent news reports in the New York Post and from NBC News have turned up instances of people using EBT cards to pay for liquor, tobacco, and gambling.
“Public assistance is designed to help needy families provide care for their children, promote job preparation and achieve self-sufficiency,” says the memo accompanying the bill.”
“Currently, no state law protects public assistance cash benefits from either being misused to purchase alcoholic beverages, tobacco or lottery tickets or withdrawn from Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) at locations such as liquor stores, casinos or establishments providing adult-oriented entertainment.
“Obviously, the majority of families and individuals receiving public assistance use the assistance responsibly to help care for their families, but it is also evident that abuse does occur,” the memo says.
“EBT cards are intended to help people who have fallen on hard times afford the necessities. But, when these cards are used to purchase things like smokes, booze or lottery tickets, it’s a major waste of taxpayer money” said Ritchie.