Industry News

EBT Cards USed For Strip Clubs

NL- So people getting free money can use it at strip clubs instead of to feed their children. Brilliant!

Electronic benefits, or EBT, cards look and perform much like prepaid credit cards. In Florida, the cards are administered by the Department of Children and Families and are intended to be used to purchase food and medical care.

HB 701, introduced by State Rep. Jimmie Smith [R-Inverness], is designed to comply with a section of the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. Under the federal law, by 2014 states receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families must enact and implement “policies and practices as necessary to prevent assistance provided under the State program funded under this part from being used in any electronic benefit transfer transaction in any liquor store; any casino, gambling casino, or gaming establishment; or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment.”

Not coincidentally, an investigative news report aired by Action News Jacksonville in April 2012 revealed Floridians using their EBT cards to withdraw cash at ATMs in strip clubs, bars and casinos. Currently, Florida does not track how or where assistance dollars are spent.

“We have no ability,” Florida Department of Children and Families spokesman Joe Follick told Action News during the report. “We have no laws in which to say ‘you can’t use your card here, here or here.’”

State Sen. Andy Gardiner [R-Orlando] introduced companion legislation in the Senate earlier this month, for the same reasons Smith said he introduced HB 701. Both bills are supported by the Association of Club Executives, the trade organization for adult nightclubs in the U.S.

“This is Florida legislation we can support,” said Angelina Spencer, president of the Washington, DC-based lobbying firm Empowerment Enterprises Ltd., which represents ACE. “To ask our lobbyists to oppose this legislation is political suicide.”

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