Children Would Get Cut Of Gambling Winnings Under Bill
Deadbeat parents who gamble at riverboats and racetracks would have to give their children a cut of their winnings under a bill being considered by the Indiana Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, would garnish the winnings of gamblers who owe child support. The program is similar to one already used by the Hoosier Lottery.
Casinos, betting parlors and racetracks would be required to check the name of any person who wins more than $2,000 against the Federal Parent Locator Service, a database used by the IRS, state lotteries and other government agencies to keep track of parents who owe child support.
The money the parents owe would be deducted from their winnings and sent to child support agencies. The winner would get whatever was left.
"It won't come up with a lot of money, but it will be a step in the right direction," said Bray, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to hear the bill Wednesday.
Bray's bill, Senate Bill 143, was modeled after a national system proposed by President Bush. That program is part of a welfare reform bill awaiting action by the U.S. Senate.
However, casino operators say the new program raises privacy issues and could prove difficult to implement.
"We would have the problem of trying to identify those people, which would mean we would have to have something available 24 hours a day, seven days a week as close as one of the pits itself," Mike Smith, executive director of the Casino Association of Indiana, told The Indianapolis Star for a story Friday.
"If somebody hits the jackpot, you've got to have that information available at that instant," he said.
Rep. Markt Lytle, D-Madison, whose committee reviews many gambling-related bills said he has reservations about putting the Indiana Gaming Commission and the Indiana Horse Racing Commission in the business of collecting child support.
"I love the concept of trying to collect child support. The child should not have to go without," said Lytle, chairman of the House Public Policy, Ethics and Veterans Affairs Committee. "But I'm not sure it's good public policy. We don't ask other businesses to do that."
The Hoosier Lottery already checks winners' names to determine if they owe child support or income taxes before paying prizes greater than $600, said Jack Ross, lottery director.
The lottery last year withheld a total of $94,518 from 84 winners who were delinquent in child support payments.