Gambling away welfare checks

February 28, 2012 2:46 pm

What’s wrong with this picture? A state government issues thousands of welfare checks that then get spent at casinos. The government taxes the casinos at a higher rate than most business, and uses the revenue to fund government services, including welfare.

That’s exactly what is going on in Colorado, according to an investigation by a local Denver television station. The investigation underscores several points:

1. Many casino customers are poor and struggling to make ends meet. Rather than getting ahead, many are throwing away their money on the useless and unproductive activity of gambling. Money that should go to for rent, food and child support is often getting spent at casinos.

2. Taxpayers that don’t gamble still pay to support the casino industry, which makes a large chunk of its profits from problem and repeat gamblers. Beyond the welfare dollars spent at casinos, taxpayers also pick up the tab for the increased social and economic costs that come with gambling, including increased crime, divorce and bankruptcy.

3. Casinos are a misguided public policy that amounts to a regressive tax on those who can least afford it, often the poor, elderly and working class. Elected officials are sworn to protect citizens not implement a public policy that legalizes casinos that strip wealth from residents.

4. If Colorado residents are spending welfare checks in casinos (and strip clubs), the chances are the same thing is happening in other states that have legalized casinos.

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