Casinos shouldn’t check for deadbeat parents, industry leaders say | NevadaAppeal.com

Casinos shouldn’t check for deadbeat parents, industry leaders say

ANGIE WAGNER

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Gambling industry leaders agreed Wednesday that deadbeat parents should pay up, but casinos shouldn’t be policing child support slackers.

”I don’t think it’s a good idea for the government to ask businesses to do its job,” said Alan Feldman, spokesman for Mirage Resorts Inc.

President Clinton’s budget for fiscal 2001 will contain a proposal under which gambling outlets could seize the winnings of patrons who owe child support. The White House estimates that this maneuver alone could bring in $348 million over five years.

The gambling provision, one of several items in Clinton’s budget seeking to collect $2 billion in back child support in the next five years, was news to Feldman and several other industry leaders.

”We heard it this morning,” said Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., president of the American Gaming Association. ”To my knowledge, no one in the industry or the congressional delegation was aware of it.”

Under the proposal announced Wednesday, casinos or other gambling establishments would check to see whether their big winners owe child support as they go through procedures for withholding federal income taxes. The winnings of those who do would be seized.

It would apply to winnings through casinos, dog racing, jai alai or keno. It would not apply to winnings from lotteries, which already are covered under current law.

”I have some serious reservations about how such a plan would work,” Fahrenkopf said. ”I think there are serious due process and privacy issues here that would have to dealt with.”

Fahrenkopf said regulating gamblers who owe child support would be too difficult.

”Someone who comes into a casino and wins a lot of money, and he’s from Georgia. How are we supposed to find out whether he owes money in Georgia?”

Bill Thompson, a UNLV professor of public administration and gambling expert, said the government was trying to dump deadbeat parents on private businesses.

”The government’s got the tools. Why don’t they track these people down? They know their addresses. All of a sudden casinos are supposed to do it.

”I think it’s absurd. Should they make the payments? Absolutely yes. Send the IRS after them.”

Nevada’s congressional delegation questioned what the burden would be on casinos.

”The proposal sets dangerous precedent by using a private industry to act as a federal agency,” Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said.

Bill Bible, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said it was too early for the NRA to take a position on the proposal.