Illinois Passes Law to Garnish Gambling Winnings for Child Support

Posted on: August 18, 2013, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: August 14, 2013, 09:13h.

Deadbeat dads – and moms – could get their gambling winnings garnished in Illinois now

One of the more challenging – yet important – tasks for local and state governments can be to collect child support payments from parents who are not inclined to pay them. Often, the same parents – let’s face it, typically dads – who avoid making such payments are also able to hide what earnings they do have, making catching up with “deadbeat” parents all the more difficult.

Now, the state of Illinois is looking to add a new partner in their attempt to make sure that child support payments are made: the casinos and race tracks in the state.

Casinos Can Garnish Winnings

A new piece of legislation that was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn this week will compel casinos and race tracks in Illinois to intercept gambling winnings from parents who owe child support, garnishing it and returning it to the families they are responsible for supporting.

The move comes as Illinois faces severe problems in the area of child support. According to reports, the state has documented nearly $3 billion in back unpaid child support payments – a figure equal to nearly $250 for every man, woman and child living in the state.

The new law doesn’t exactly give casinos the ability to take every penny from a gambler who owes child support, but it comes close. In order for the casino to check against a database of individuals who owe back child support payments, a winner will first have to cash out enough for the casino to file a W-2G form. That would include a win of at least $1,200 at a casino, or a win of at least $600 on a $2 bet at a horse racing track. Smaller wins and losses will not be tracked, which could limit just how often the program catches deadbeats in the act of gambling and then cashing out their wins.

Stand Forewarned

Furthermore, those who are in danger of having their winnings garnished will have ample warning. Signs will be posted at casinos and race tracks telling gamblers about the possibility of having their winnings taken from them if they are in the database of individuals who owe child support – if they weren’t already aware because of the attention the bill signing has received.

When a deadbeat parent is found, though, the casino has the authority to act swiftly to take back the money they’ve won. The casino can take the winnings in any form – be it cash, chips, or anything else – and must take as much as required to pay the owed support, up to the total amount owed. The casino is allowed to take an administrative fee of 5 percent of the total seized, up to a maximum of $250.

The law is similar to one already in effect in Indiana, where gamblers have experienced the long arm of the law behind a casino cage if they are behind on child support.

While this move may not be seen as strictly anti-gambling – it’s more about making sure those with fiscal responsibilities meet them – it does come from a governor who has worked hard to prevent the spread of gambling in his state. For instance, while Illinois has previously pushed for plans for a casino in the city of Chicago, Quinn has vetoed the plan before it could go into law.