No betting with welfare money, city may order

JIJI

With welfare abuse in the spotlight, the city of Ono, Hyogo Prefecture, is mulling an unprecedented ordinance that would ban welfare recipients from using the money for gambling.

The city presented a draft ordinance to the assembly Wednesday. If approved, it would take effect in April, according to officials.

“I believe no existing ordinance stipulates the ban on wasteful spending as clearly as this,” an Ono official said. “To win public trust, the ordinance aims for the welfare system to be operated rigidly. It is not aimed at keeping a closer eye on recipients.”

The draft stipulates that beneficiaries should not spend welfare money on pachinko or horse racing if it disrupts their lives.

Ono officials will visit violators to encourage them to modify their behavior. If no improvement is seen, the city will take action, such as suspending payments. It also plans to ask residents to report beneficiaries who gamble.

As of Feb. 1, Ono had 120 households on welfare, or 0.29 percent of its population. There have been no notable cases of benefit fraud, but the city decided to propose the ordinance to raise public awareness of the welfare system, officials claimed.