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Overdue child support bills now shadow big Ohio casino winners

The gambling industry is described by some as being rather young in Ohio. But a new legislative measure we wrote about recently suggests the business is coming of age. What that is expected to mean, according to the state's Department of Job and Family Services, is that some child support payments currently past due will be fulfilled.

At the time we published the article, the bill hadn't cleared all the legislative hurdles, but it has since. And as of last month, Ohio's four casinos joined other gambling enterprises in participating in the Department of Job and Family Services' "intercept program." 

Under the provisions of the law, the casinos are now required to check the names of winners against a database of parents who are in arrears on child support payments. If they strike it big, going over certain amounts at the slots machines, game tables or other high-stake games, the casinos will now be required to deduct the support amounts owed and funnel the funds to the state.

Sponsors of the measure told the Dayton Daily News recently that they purposely set the limits to match what is already required for reporting to the Internal Revenue Service to make it easier for the casinos. So, if someone wins $1,200 or more at the slots, $5,000 or more at the tables or $600 and up from a high-stakes bet, they could see those winnings redirected.

And child support is not the only obligation the state is screening for. Officials note that any money owed in back taxes or missed student loans can be recovered through the intercept program, too. It's not clear how much the state expects to collect for support, but the program is credited with recouping nearly $3 million just from lottery and racino winnings since 2001.

What this reflects is just how serious Ohio takes child support obligations. Many factors influence where courts set support levels and modifications can be sought as changes in circumstance occur. And if windfalls are realized, the state intends to make sure children who are due benefits receive them.

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