Fla. bill would ban using food stamps for stripper, casino tabs

Florida’s strip clubs, liquor stores, casinos, pornographic video shops and bookstores would no longer receive food stamps and welfare money, if a bill filed by state Rep. Jimmie T. Smith, R-Inverness, passes the Legislature.  Last week, the House’s Healthy Families Subcommittee approved HB 701,  and it continues to progress through Tallahassee.

Last year, Jacksonville’s Action News found that food stamp cards were being used at strip clubs, bars and gaming centers in Jacksonville, saying, “No one is tracking how or where the money is being spent.” The Florida Department of stripper picking up bills, photoChildren and Families officials told Action News reporter Ashley Coleman that recipients can “use the card to buy anything you want.” DCF said it lacked laws needed to prevent such abuses. Similar revelations have been reported in New York and California.

Smith’s measure would require that “an electronic benefits transfer card may not be used or accepted at certain establishments” and specify “penalties for violations of card use restrictions.” Although food stamps are dispursed under a federal program, they are managed by the states. Smith’s proposed reform is authorized by a section of the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, meant to fix the problem.

ATM machines can be used to withdraw food stamp cash almost anywhere. Paper food stamps in their old form are obsolete. Recipients now get pre-paid debit cards called EBT, or electronic benefit transfer, cards. EBT cards allow recipients to spend the funds anywhere a credit card or debit card is accepted, for almost anything. The pre-paid cards are recharged regularly with money from the government.

Strip clubs and casinos presumably install ATM machines to exploit the weaknesses of patrons tempted to spend more than they should. In many states, millions of dollars from government assistance funds have been spent on the ATM fees alone at such establishments, according to media reports. Presumably, the cash can be spent at the strip clubs, casinos, liquor stores, etc., without any paper trail.

Smith’s HB 701 comes as nearly 48 million Americans are receiving food stamps. The program has increased by 135 percent, and the number participating has increased by 70 percent over the last four years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Government Accountability Office found that the number of food stamp recipients has doubled and that the costs have increased four-fold over the last decade.

Government Accountability Office auditors found that $460 million of food stamp benefits went to ineligible recipients. A gas station clerk in California recently revealed that some on food stamps have as much as $7,000 unused on their EBT card, prompting investigations in California, according to media reports.

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About Jonathon Moseley

Jonathon Moseley is a Board member of the Northern Virginia Tea Party, and Executive Director of American Border Control. He served as Executive Director of the Legal Affairs Council.

The opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of BizPac Review.

  • Patti Melton

    It's about time that laws are enacted to prevent abuse of the welfare system. Too many people are on it that shouldn't be on it and making it difficult for people on very limited budgets to receive help they need.

  • http://facebook Jody Hurt

    Not only do they do these, they sell their money on EBT

    for cash. One hundred EBT money for fifty in cash. I have heard

    a lot of the people talking about the fraud they commit

    against our tax dollars yet the government keeos dishing

    it out. Give them two years assistance and training fir a job

    then no more support!!

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  • Pete Smith

    I'm sorry, but did you spend at least 5 minutes researching this before you wrote about it? Both food stamp money AND welfare money go on the same card, but you cannot spend food stamps on anything but food. When you see people using these cards to buy other things (or at ATM machines), they are using the WELFARE money. You can't even buy paper products or diapers with food stamp money.

    Really? Your neighbors have been laid off and can't feed their kids, and this is how you respond?

  • Boca Legend

    This is going to have a negative impact on all of us guys that try to support single mothers one dollar bill at a time. :))

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  • usmade

    What would you expect? People that are criminals will find a way to use EBT cards any way they can.

  • Ladybluefire

    Oh well, as long as it is only the welfare money they want to use at strip joints then I for one am relieved!

    Really? Your neighbors have been laid off and can’t feed their kids, then what are they doing at strip clubs/casinos?

  • Frank Controne

    Yes, I agree. If it's WELFARE money, that's a WHOLE different story.

    (Good thing you used a pseudonym Pete. If not, they'd have had you in a straightjacket by now. UN REAL.)

  • http://www.hotukcasino.com julieandrew

    They must take at most care!!