Under current Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) regulations, debit cards for welfare recipients will not work in ATM machines located in any Pennsylvania casino. However, the rule does not stop those with unemployment benefit debit cards from withdrawing money inside casinos.
State Senator Lisa Boscola is urging the PGCB to expand its policy so that unemployment compensation debit cards are also unable to be used in Pennsylvania casinos.
She says there are a handful of people wasting these unemployment benefits on gambling, instead of what they’re intended for. “A lot of times, these individuals are losing in their first round and they’re drawing down again and again while they’re at the casino, which leaves them no money to pay for other things that we think are essential for them to live.” She says the money is intended to pay for shelter, food, clothing, child support, gas and other necessities of life.
Boscola says this problem is not only hurting those unemployed, but also business owners and workers, since a portion of their pay covers 95 percent of all unemployment compensation. “I feel that those that are using their unemployment benefits should take into consideration others that are paying for it. [Employers and workers] just don’t appreciate that they’re using it at the casinos and wasting it away.”
The senator says just two years ago, lawmakers extended unemployment benefits because so many of them were complaining that they didn’t have enough to cover living costs. “Unemployment is at a record high, and we want to help them. But we don’t want them wasting their money…while they’re seeking new employment.”
Boscola says this legislation will make wasting unemployment compensation at casinos as difficult as possible.
She says she’s working with PGCB and it’s very probable that this will go into effect in the near future.