Casinos’ Newest Ask: Let Us Take Food From the Mouths of Children

You’re probably thinking that I’ve got to be exaggerating with the headline on this post. But I’m not – here’s the story.

Some of the corporations pursuing casino licenses in the state say that in order for them to operate profitably here, some changes need to be made to our gambling law. One of the changes they want is to be relieved of the responsibility of checking to see if casino winners are on the list of persons who are delinquent in paying child support that they owe and to deduct those past due amounts before making payouts (this requirement also applies to past due taxes).

The public policy objective here — that obligations to family and community come first — is universally recognized: people who fail to pay child support can have their paychecks garnished, their personal property seized, their driver’s licenses suspended. The state lottery cannot make payouts without first checking for these unsatisfied debts.

But the casinos are of the view that they should not have to play by the same rules requiring them to deduct past due child support from a gambler’s winnings. And — the Gaming Commission agrees with them (a pause here to note that a poll released yesterday shows public confidence in the Gaming Commission to be under water). This week, the Commission went to bat for the casinos and asked the Legislature to suspend this requirement. But only for the casinos — it would remain in effect as to lottery winnings, paycheck garnishment, etc.

Yes, we totally get that being identified as a deadbeat parent can take the sizzle out of a gaming excursion. And, as the children who are being deprived of their parents’ resources can tell you, that’s no picnic either.

There are 71 days remaining in the Legislative session — stay tuned to see what happens.

PS – the Gaming Commission has not attempted to reconcile its proposal to exempt casinos from child support checks (while leaving the lottery subject to that requirement) with its obligation under the gambling law to enhance and support the performance of the state lottery. Surely the prospect of more take-home winnings from casinos would draw a certain class of gambler away from the lottery,

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