Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Senator: Prohibit Gambling with Unemployment Funds

A state senator is chagrined that the latest Unemployment Compensation bill passed the Pennsylvania Senate without her amendment to bar the use of such funds at casinos.

Senator Lisa Boscola says her amendment would have prevented beneficiaries from using their Unemployment Compensation card at any ATM machine inside a casino.

Boscola says a similar measure is in place for state welfare cards, and could easily be implemented by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The Northampton County Democrat says she thinks gambling with unemployment funds is a misuse of the program, which is paid into by employers. Boscola says she doesn’t think preventing cash withdrawals at casino ATMs is restricting anyone’s liberty.

Boscola says she had previously introduced the legislation as a stand-alone bill, but that has been in committee since the last legislative session. She says she’s going to increase her public outreach efforts and keep trying to get the original bill passed.

“Part of this is education, because once people know that individuals are using this card at the casinos, they’re getting very upset. But not enough people know right now,” says Boscola. “As I make people more aware, I’m hoping that more and more senators say, ‘You know what, this is a problem and we need to correct it.’”

Boscola says she thinks there are two reasons the amendment didn't make it through the Senate vote: first, because it would have delayed an urgent bill; second, because the state's gaming industry vehemently opposed it.

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