The New York State Senate passed the Public Assistance Integrity Act on Tuesday to crack down on welfare fraud and prohibit welfare recipients from using cash assistance for the purchase of cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets, or for casino gambling.

Co-sponsor of the bill Senator James Seward says it would also prevent individuals receiving welfare from using their EBT cards to make withdrawals from certain places.

“Currently it is not against the law in New York State to use the cash portion of these EBT cards for such things as beer, cigarettes, lottery tickets or even lap dances at the local strip club,” Seward said. “This is downright wrong and an abuse of taxpayers’ money and we need to put a stop to it."

Welfare recipients receive both food stamps and cash assistance, which are both generally administered through the electronic benefit transfer or EBT card. Food stamps have strict regulations on what can be purchased, but cash assistance does not. State Senator Seward says recipients can use that cash for items not covered under food stamps. The senate has taken steps to prevent this abuse of the system.

The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the senate for the second straight year and has been sent to the assembly for the second time. It's hoped that this year the assembly will pass the bill.