How casinos are helping states recoup child support

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Child Support on Monday, March 18, 2013.

As many Virginians know, casinos often get a bad rap because they willingly take the hard-earned money of people who hope to win the jackpot. However, casinos in several states are doing their part to help child support departments recoup child support for those who need it to care for their children.

While Virginia itself has yet to enact one, several other states have so-called "casino interception laws." These laws allow casinos to withhold winnings from anyone winning more than $1,200 and whose name appears in a database listing them as owing child support. In one state, $806,000 in casino winnings was given to the state's child support department in 2012.

While the casinos do not realize any financial benefit from this law, it does not cost them anything but extra time and labor to search the database for each person who hits a jackpot for more than $1,200. Still, it can be difficult to do so when there are thousands of customers to serve. But, as some casino officials recognize, the silver lining is that the process is for a good cause - making sure that children's parents receive court-mandated child support.

Using a casino to intercept child support money may sound like an offbeat way to ensure support enforcement. However, people in all types of financial situations - even those who earn a modest income - visit casinos either because of the lure of easy money or simply because they want to have good time every now and then. It admittedly seems ironic that a parent who cannot afford to stay caught up on child support can afford to visit a casino, but it happens nonetheless.

Those who owe child support cannot pretend to ignore it in hopes that it will go away. Failure to pay child support can result in many penalties, including suspension of a license, the loss of the privilege to obtain a passport and even jail time.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "La. casinos seize $800,000 for owed child support," March 10, 2013

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