Oklahoma lottery winnings can be garnished from people owing delinquent child support, a state commission has decided.
The Oklahoma Commission for Human Services approved a rule Tuesday in support of the Department of Human Services, which is also talking with horse racetracks and American Indian casinos to institute a system of cross-checking winners for unpaid debts to the state, said Gary Dart, director of DHS's child support enforcement division.
"Other states have seen success with general sports collections because in most cases we are trying to capture a lump sum from someone who has really gotten behind," he said.
Dart said lottery winnings are a major source of child support collections in states with established games.
"This could be a big deal as the lottery grows," he said.
The DHS has already been trying to capture lottery winnings for back child support, but the new rule will allow greater enforcement and an appeals process.
Dart said several winners so far have been flagged by the Oklahoma Lottery Commission.
One of the first $5,000 winners in the state had to relinquish all of his winnings when it was discovered he owed more than $7,000 in child support, Dart said.
Currently, the lottery commission manually checks a winner's name to determine if he or she owes the state child support. Dart said the entire system eventually will be in a database, so delinquent winners will be found automatically with a search.
Only people who win $600 or more — therefore collecting their winnings through the lottery commission and not a retailer — will be checked, said the lottery commission's executive director, Jim Scroggins.