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Casinos and Racetracks Obtain Back Child Support From Gamblers

Parents who are behind on their child support payments and win big at casinos and racetracks in Colorado will have their winnings diverted to the state. That is because a two year old state law requires racetracks and casinos in Colorado to check whether any winner of a certain amount is on the state's list of parents who have not paid their child support payments.

If a person wins $1,200 or more at a casino, the casino must check the child support status of the winner. If a person wins $600 at a racetrack, the racetrack must check whether the winner owes any child support. Both of the amounts are the initial amounts that the IRS requires tax payments for when individuals win gambling. If a gambling winner owes any child support, the casino or racetrack will divert the amount owed to the state and will give any amount above what is owed to the gambler.

Since its inception the 2008 law has collected around $1 million in back child support payments. In comparison, Colorado parents owe around $1.4 billion to their children according to the state's Human Services Department. About half of the winnings that are collected at casinos and racetracks involve repeat winners who have won while gambling more than once. The largest amount collected by a casino or racetrack has been $35,468.

The state of Colorado like many states already had a child support collection system for winners of its state lottery. However, Colorado was the first state to intercept casino and racetrack winnings and direct them towards child support payments. Texas so far has not followed Colorado's lead but Louisiana and Indiana have.

Source: The Denver Post, "Deadbeat Parents' Luck Pays Off for Kids," Karen Auge, 12/23/10

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