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Louisiana casinos join battle to recover child support payments

According to sources, over $1 billion dollars in back child support payments are owed to thousands of Louisiana children. But now, a new law will ensure that those payments are not squandered at Louisiana casinos.

Businessweek reports that Louisiana casinos will begin confiscating child support payments from deadbeat patrons beginning on May 20. The law approving confiscation of gambling winnings was passed last year, but required the approval of the Gaming Control Board-Louisiana's highest gambling regulation enforcement body-before it took effect. The finalized policy was unanimously confirmed last Thursday by the gambling board, and allows casinos to withhold cash winnings of at least $1,200, which is the amount requiring reporting on tax forms.

Prior to the new law, casinos were only allowed to intercept slot machine annuity payments. To assist in enforcing the new policy, the Department of Children and Family Services is setting up a database that will allow casinos to determine whether a winner owes child support in Louisiana. Prior to paying out winnings to a patron, casinos will now check to see if their name is on the database and will confiscate the amount of back child support owed plus an administrative fee of up to $35. Under the regulations, money exceeding that amount will be paid to the patron.

The regulations also require each casino to report on a monthly basis the number of database searches, the number of winners tagged, the amount of winnings intercepted, and total administrative charged.

Apparently several other states already have systems like this in place. While Georgia law does allow the garnishment of wages for back child support, there is currently no law allowing the interception of gambling winnings.

Source: Businessweek, "La. to seize gambling winnings for child support," Associated Press, 22 April 2011.

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