La. bans use of welfare money on tobacco, liquor

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Associated Press

Posted on March 2, 2013 at 9:36 AM

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's social services department has banned the spending of welfare money on cigarettes, alcohol and lottery tickets.

The new regulations were issued Friday by the Department of Children and Family Services. They also include restrictions that prohibit the use of a welfare electronic benefit card at liquor stores, gambling sites and strip clubs, as required under federal law.

Violators of the new regulations will stop receiving welfare benefits for a year for a first offense, two years for a second offense and permanently for a third offense.

Tracking violations may be difficult, however, because the welfare money can be taken off the electronic benefit card as cash through an ATM.

Social services officials say they are relying on businesses and the public to report suspected violations.

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