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Illinois Will Not Take Casino Winnings for Child Support

Parents who are delinquent in child support payments can face several penalties, including wage garnishment, interception of state and federal tax returns and suspension of various licenses such as driver's, hunting and professional.

Five states in the U.S. have also passed laws allowing for overdue child support payments to be taken out of a parent's casino winnings. Illinois lawmakers have tried to introduce similar legislation but have met resistance not only from casino owners, but also the state agency that enforces child support orders.

Casino Winnings for Child Support

In states that require casinos to collect back child support payments from casino winnings, casino employees check a database to see if the person owes child support before paying out the person's winnings. In Colorado, the casinos are not required to do the checks unless a person wins at least $1,200 - the same amount at which a person needs to fill out a federal tax form. Those who win at table games only get checked if they win at least $600 under 300-to-one odds or more.

The states that have laws allowing for collection of child support payments from casino winnings have been remarkably successful in getting money to children who need it. Colorado's law took effect in 2008, and the state has seized 810 casino winnings for over $1.25 million since then. Indiana passed its law in 2010, and the state has seized casino winnings 382 times for $736,000 in its first year.

Resistance in Illinois

Despite the success in other states, child support officials at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services in Illinois are hesitant to support such legislation in Illinois. They voiced concerns about how labor intensive it would be for the casinos to do the background checks required and what type of database the state would have to design to allow for such checks.

Casino owners also oppose the idea. Gaming industry leaders argue that other industries are not expected to carry out state functions like collecting delinquent child support and they should not have to either. They claim they need a real-time computer system to check what parents owe so they do not collect on a debt that the winner has already settled. Two of the states with legislation allowing collection of child support arrears from casino winnings have had difficulty implementing such computer systems.

States are always looking for new ways to get parents to comply with child support orders. Seizing casino winnings is the latest in a long series of attempts to get money to the children who need it. If you are in need of advice regarding a child support matter, contact an experienced family law attorney who can advise you of all of your options.

Source: Chicago Tribune, More states are deducting child support from casino jackpots, but not Illinois, Bill Ruthart, 4 October 2011

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