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Casino winnings pay child support

August 17, 2011

Indiana’s casinos have blocked payouts to hundreds of state gamblers who are behind on their child support payments during the past year.

The Indiana General Assembly mandated an intercept program in 2010, and the state’s 13 casinos began implementing it late last year. The state provides the casinos a list of parents who are at least $2,000 or three months delinquent in their child support payments, and the casinos are then required to check the names of gamblers who win $1,200 or more against the delinquent list and withhold money from those listed. Those winnings are turned over to the Indiana Department of Child Services, which holds the money for 10 days to allow for possible appeals before sending it to families.

The DCS reports that since October, when the first casino implemented the new program, operators have withheld about $650,000 from 376 men and women, some on more than one occasion. Sixteen gamblers have actually paid off their child support debts with their forfeited jackpots, according to DCS Deputy Director Cynthia Longest.

Data shows that jackpots have been withheld from 19 people who’d never made even one of their court-ordered child support payments; 35 people have had all or part of their winnings intercepted more than once, and one person lost four jackpots as a result. The highest single amount withheld and turned over to DCS was $18,000. Most of the intercepts have occurred at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson and Indiana Live in Shelbyville, which serve the largest number of Indiana residents.

State and casino officials estimate the program might eventually result in over $1 million annually in intercepted payments, though some speculate that amount could decrease as more people become aware of the program and try to sidestep it.

Rehearing "Kids may hit the jackpot" IL Jan. 20 -Feb. 2, 2010

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