This story has been updated with comment from the trade group representing strip clubs.
The use of government charge cards at casinos is generally regarded as a bad thing. To one group, however, it is a completely legitimate business expense.
The CEO of the American Gaming Association sent a letter to Defense Department officials on Thursday saying a proposal by the Pentagon’s inspector general to ban the use of government charge cards at casinos was unfair and reflected a “gross misunderstanding” of the businesses.
The issue came to light after an IG audit found Defense cardholders spent nearly $1 million on more than 4,000 transactions at casinos in a one-year period between 2013 and 2014. The IG recommended the Defense Travel Management Office enhance technologies to help identify when government cards were being used at casinos, and the office agreed to look into it.
Casinos “consist of much more than the gaming floor itself,” and a prohibition on using government charge cards there “would ignore the many legitimate business-related expenses incurred at gaming facilities,” gaming association CEO Geoff Freeman wrote in the letter. He added such a policy could prevent feds from staying in a casino’s hotel, shopping at its retail stores or dining at its restaurants.
Freeman said the gaming industry provides career opportunities for veterans and regularly partners with charities that benefit veterans.
“A blanket ban on the use of government credit cards at casinos would have significant negative unintended consequences,” Freeman wrote after noting the industry’s philanthropy. “We urge you to consider these negative repercussions and not single out an industry that represents a key part of the U.S. economy.”
The Association of Club Executives, a trade group representing the strip club industry, also told Government Executive the ban would be a step too far.
U.S. Postal Service employees also recently ran into trouble for using their government charge cards at casinos, and an explosive report of excessive spending at a General Services Administration conference at a casino in 2010 led to resignation of the agency’s chief and an overhaul of spending policies for traveling federal employees.
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