HOPE & STRIPPERS: Iowa Bans Welfare Recipients From Using EBT Cards in Strip Clubs

Published on March 30, 2014

By Paul Brennan | Iowa Watchdog

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa has a new strategy for preventing welfare recipients from using their electronic benefit transfer cards in liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs — sending a letter to the welfare recipients telling them not to do it.

The strategy actually is an improvement over what the state had been doing, which was nothing.

Until February, Iowa’s Family Investment Program had no restrictions on how the cash assistance it paid out could be spent or where its EBT cash cards could be used. Because there were no restrictions, FIP’s parent, the Iowa Department of Human Services, never bothered to track EBT card transactions.

The Family Investment Program receives almost half its funds from the federal government’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. A 2012 federal law requires states taking federal dollars to take actions to prevent EBT cards from being used in liquor stores, casinos and “any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe.”

So while there are still no state restrictions on how and where welfare dollars can be spent, it’s now illegal to use an EBT card in such establishments.

States had until Feb. 22 to report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the steps taken to keep EBT cards from being used in the now prohibited locations.

Read more: Watchdog.org