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Hennessey Bill Seeks to Curb Welfare Abuse

Legislation would prohibit withdrawals of public benefit funds from ATMs located in located in casinos, liquor stores or adult entertainment facilities.

Newly-elected Assemb. Ed Hennessey is sponsoring legislation that would prohibit the withdrawing of public assistance benefits funds from ATMs located in casinos, liquor stores or adult entertainment facilities, according to press release from his office. 

“This common-sense legislation would protect hardworking taxpayers from abuse while ensuring that individuals receiving public assistance continue to get the temporary help they need until they can get back on their feet,” Hennessey, D-Medford, said. 

Currently, Hennessey said, some specially designated ATMs from which public assistance funds can be dispensed through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards are located in casinos, liquor stores and even strip clubs.

No state law currently protects public assistance cash benefits from either being misused to purchase liquor or lottery tickets or withdrawn from ATMs at inappropriate locations.

Hennessey said that if the state doesn't stop this welfare abuse it could lose $120 million in federal funding because of the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which requires states to prohibit certain welfare spending by 2014.

“The fact is, if we don’t conform to this law, New York will lose out on vital federal funding and New York taxpayers will be forced to make up the difference," he said. 

Steve January 08, 2013 at 10:53 PM
This bills is a start but it's mild at best. Why not write to bill to prevent people from taking cash out period or having people go to convince stores and make purchase that are cashed out for a fee. Don't think it doesn't happen, it's happening right now in Patchogue and blue point.
jim polichak January 09, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Changing where someone can cash out on there EBT money is virtually meaningless. It might make it a little bit harder for them to gamble or buy beer, liquor, or cigarettes but it won't stop them! And how much money are we talking about anyway? I was on welfare for a while. I got $22.50 a month. How much of that could anyone gamble away on lottery tickets? Would it even pay for a bus to a casino? Out of that I had to buy soup, tooth paste, clothes, shoes, do my laundry, pay bus fares, medical co-pays, (etc.), anything I needed beyond basic food, shelter, and Medicaid. It,s a kin to the "three squares and a cot" you get in prison only since you're on the outside your obligations and needs are greater. With a disposable income of less than a dollar a day how many Timex could afford to ho out to a movie or a nice meal? Could you consider buying nice enough clothes to go on a date or a job interview? Think about it! It's no wonder that people on welfare buy lottery tickets - Welfare the way it is today is a trap and for most people in that trap a lottery ticket looks like the only way out of it.
jared January 10, 2013 at 01:36 AM
why don't they just make it so EBT can only be used in a supermarket? and also that EBT funds CANNOT be withdrawn? no, lets just not do anything though. and Jim got 22.50 a month on welfare? I guess he wasn't using NYS welfare system them LMAO
Ben Vitale January 13, 2013 at 02:59 PM
The law makes no sense at a state owned casino! If assistance money is squandered at a state casino, the government gets the money back. The only law that would make any sense, is a law that places the money back into the proper governmental account. I could understand this law at a non government owned casino. We could save $28. and it would cost us millions to pay for the new department that would be required to implement this scheme.

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