Casinos won’t have to collect
from ‘deadbeat’ parents

Mar 26, 2007 7:13 AM

A bill to force casinos to collect back child support from the gambling winnings of deadbeat parents died last week in a Senate committee.

The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resource and Energy Committee voted 5-2 to kill House Bill 1071 by Rep. Joel Judd, D-Denver, and Sen. Stephanie Takis, D-Aurora.

"I don’t think we should cross the line to require private industry to collect our debts," Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, one of two Democrats to vote against the bill, told the Rocky Mountain News. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, was the other.

A similar bill died in a committee last year.

The sponsors vowed to bring back the measure next year.

Takis and Judd said requiring casinos in Cripple Creek, Central City and Black Hawk to collect back child support is no different from private business collecting sales taxes or employers garnishing wages.

"If you use income that should go to pay child support to gamble, then the winnings from that money should go to pay off any child support owed," Takis said.

Lobbyist Mike Feeley, a former state senator, told lawmakers that the measure would snare a lot of law-abiding gamblers who should not be subjected to such collections from the casinos.

Advocates of children and women called HB 1071 a responsible way for the state to assist in collections. They testified that batterers are less likely to pay child support, making it difficult for many abused women to support their children.

"We believe both parents have a financial responsibility to their children, and the state should intervene," said Amber Tafoya of the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse. "It is yet another tool in the state’s arsenal for collections."

Some Democrats said they may support the bill next year, but believe the legislature should first focus on smoking at casinos.