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Can Ohio garnish gambling winnings to collect child support?

Not only can the state garnish gambling winnings in certain cases where child support payments are in arrears, but as a recent article in the Dayton Daily News reported it has been doing it since 2001.

The Ohio Lottery which oversees the state's seven racinos has been working with the Department of Job and Family Services since that time and reportedly has collected nearly $3 million from winners. And just last month, in accordance with state policy, the state's reach in such matters expanded as Ohio's four casinos started participating in the JFS "intercept program." 

Under that partnership, the casinos cross-check the names of certain winners against the JFS database of parents who are delinquent on child support. If you win enough to warrant having a notification sent to the Internal Revenue Service, you'll be checked against the database. And if you owe back child support, the casinos will deduct that amount from your winnings and send it to the state for disbursal.

Some might dislike the practice, but legislators who sponsored the measure to incorporate the casinos into the intercept effort argue that the welfare of children needs to take priority. They say it's hard to argue that someone who wins big and is behind on child support shouldn't meet their obligations.

It might also be useful to keep in mind the standards under which child support is calculated in Ohio. The factors considered in setting support levels under those guidelines include such things as the number of children needing support and how much income both parents have to put toward meeting the children's needs.

But the law also calls for wages of the obligated parent to be withheld to meet the bill. And supporters of the intercept program say the same logic deserves to apply to gambling winnings.

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