Great news, Las Vegans! A lot of that welfare money that California gives its unemployed residents to buy food, medication and shelter ... is being spent here!
California distributes welfare through CalWORKS cards, which function like ATM cards, and the California Department of Social Service tracks where these cards are used, both in and out of the state. Of the $69 million that Californians withdrew outside of the state between January 2007 and May 2010, $11.8 million was taken from Las Vegas ATMs. That puts us at No. 1—way ahead of Disney World and Hawaii.
Of course, it’s hard to know how much of this $11.8 million was actually gambled away at the craps tables. Some Vegas casinos voluntarily block the use of CalWORKS cards. But, according to the California Department of Social Services, we do know this: California welfare recipients withdrew $8,968 from the Tropicana, $7,995 from the Venetian, and more than $34,700 from the 7-Eleven near Encore.
California’s loss is clearly our gain. How should we celebrate? I know—let’s send our shelter residents over the border to buy SuperLotto Plus tickets.