Welfare recipients who gamble cannot be stripped of benefits automatically, court says
Anyone who receives social assistance and occasionally goes to a casino to gamble will not automatically lose the benefit, the court in Rotterdam determined on Friday in four cases.
People receiving assistance are required to report that they are gambling. They have to keep track of exactly how much they spend and win. The profits count as income. Four people who had not done so were punished by the municipality of Rotterdam. They had to hand in the benefits for the months in which they gambled.
In previous court cases, the judges agreed with that explanation, but the court in Rotterdam has broken with it. The explanation of the municipality of Rotterdam is "no longer lawful." Gambling is in fact “usually unprofitable” and it is “virtually impossible” to accurately keep track of every bet and every payout at every casino visit. Reimbursing benefits is intended to repair additional income, but according to the court, there is nothing to repair for this group of people. The consequences for them are huge.
The court itself has established a new rule for calculating gambling winnings: the proceeds are equal to the stake. "Not ideal," says the court itself, but it is more in line with the "situation in which the person entitled to social assistance would have been reasonably expected" than complete withdrawal and recovery.
Municipalities can still cut welfare recipients if they refuse to cooperate, or if they gamble much more than they say.
Reporting by ANP