Child Support Payments In Arrears? Your Casino Winnings Could Be Rerouted To Kids

Posted on: 23 September 2014

Winning a jackpot at a casino is thrilling and fun. However, many people are getting the shock of their lives when they go to casino cash cages to collect their money. In several states across the country, parents who are in arrears in their child support payments are surprised to find that some or all of their winnings will be diverted to the state child support agency and applied to their past-due accounts. Here's what you need to know about these changes in gambling laws being made across the country.

The Problem

Child support delinquency is a pervasive problem that plagues every state. In 2009, approximately $35.1 billion in child support was owed by parents. Out of the 6.9 million parents who obtained support orders in that year, 29.2 percent haven't received any of the money due. In California, delinquent child support totaled $19.2 billion in 2011.

Most states have put a number of measures in place to collect the money owed from parents who can't or don't want to pay. In California, this includes

  • Putting liens on real and personal property such as homes, vehicles and equipment
  • Garnishing wages, workers' compensation checks, unemployment benefits and other sources of income
  • Confiscating state and federal tax refunds
  • Attaching a lien to any lawsuits the non-paying parent may be involved in that could result in monetary settlements

Failure to pay child support can lead to a suspension of licenses, negative reporting to all three credit bureaus, passport denial and even jail time. Despite these consequences, the problem of nonpaying parents continues to persist.

Gambling on a New Debt Collection Tactic

Parents who are delinquent in their child support payments not only put custodial parents and children in a bind, they cost the tax payers money. Many custodial parents have to tap into social services such as welfare and Medicaid to make up for the lack of financial support.

Therefore, it's not surprising that many states have income interception programs that attempts to obtain money from nonpaying parents from any source those people may earn or win it. However, some states have expanded the reach of their systems to include seizing casino winnings.

Currently only Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, West Virginia and Louisiana have implemented laws requiring casinos to check customers' names against a database if their winnings have exceeded a minimum threshold. For example, if you win $600 or more in Ohio, the casino will check your name against a database and withhold some or all of your winnings if you owe back child support.

So far, the states' efforts are having a notable impact. Ohio has recouped over $3 million since it implemented its program in 2001. Louisiana instituted its program in 2011 and has collected over $806,000 from nearly 600 parents.

Currently California doesn't have laws requiring casinos to divert their customers' earnings to the Department of Child Support Services. However, the state does have a lottery winnings intercept program that will take a chunk of your prize money if you're lucky enough to hit the jackpot in the various lottery games run by the state. Additionally, the court will count lottery earnings as income when determining the amount of child support you are required to pay.

Only time will tell if these programs will become more widespread throughout the country, though the relative success in the states that have them may encourage other states to make similar changes to their income interception programs. If this issue concerns you, you can contact the child support agency in your state or your local casino or a site like for more information about how child support arrearage affect the payout of winnings.