2012 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Watson
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 75-76-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DECLARE AS PUBLIC POLICY THAT CHILDREN ARE ADVERSELY AFFECTED WHEN A PARENT WHO HAS AN OUTSTANDING CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGE DIVERTS CHILD SUPPORT TO GAMING; TO CODIFY SECTION 75-76-58, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE PROCEDURES FOR THE MISSISSIPPI GAMING COMMISSION, THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND LICENSEES UNDER CHAPTER 76 OF TITLE 75, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CARRY OUT THE INTERCEPT AND SEIZURE OF GAME WINNINGS OF PARENTS WITH A CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 75-76-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
75-76-3. (1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to legalize any form of gaming which is prohibited under the Mississippi Constitution or the laws of this state. All legal gaming which is conducted in this state and which is otherwise authorized by law shall be regulated and licensed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, unless the Legislature specifically provides otherwise. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as encouraging the legalization of gambling in this state.
(2) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that lotteries and gaming both consist of the material element of chance. The Legislature is prohibited from legislating upon lotteries and permitted by virtue of its inherent powers to legislate upon gaming as the occasion arises. The Legislature derives its power to legislate upon gaming or gambling devices from its inherent authority over the morals and policy of the people and such power shall not be considered to conflict with the constitutional prohibition of lotteries.
(3) The Legislature hereby finds, and declares it to be the public policy of this state, that:
(a) Regulation of licensed gaming is important in order that licensed gaming is conducted honestly and competitively, that the rights of the creditors of licensees are protected and that gaming is free from criminal and corruptive elements.
(b) Public confidence and trust can only be maintained by strict regulation of all persons, locations, practices, associations and activities related to the operation of licensed gaming establishments and the manufacture or distribution of gambling devices and equipment.
(c) All establishments where gaming is conducted and where gambling devices are operated, and manufacturers, sellers and distributors of certain gambling devices and equipment must therefore be licensed, controlled and assisted to protect the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare of the inhabitants of the state.
(d) Because children are adversely affected when parents who have outstanding child support obligations divert their financial support to gaming, a parent's winnings should be applied to the parent's outstanding child support obligations.
(4) It is the intent of the Legislature that gaming licensees, to the extent practicable, employ residents of Mississippi as gaming employees and other employees in the operation of their gaming establishments located in this state.
(5) No applicant for a license or other affirmative commission approval has any right to a license or the granting of the approval sought. Any license issued or other commission approval granted pursuant to the provisions of this chapter is a revocable privilege, and no holder acquires any vested right therein or thereunder.
(6) The Legislature recognizes that Section 98 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 prohibits the conducting of any lottery in this state and that, while not defining the term "lottery," Section 98 clearly contemplates, as indicated by specific language contained therein, that a lottery involves the sale of tickets and a drawing in order to determine the winner. The Legislature also recognizes that Section 98 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 directs the Legislature to provide by law for the enforcement of its provisions. Therefore, in carrying out its duties under the Constitution and effectuating the intent of Section 98, the Legislature hereby finds that a lottery, as prohibited by the Constitution, does not include all forms of gambling but means any activity in which:
(a) The player or players pay or agree to pay something of value for chances, represented and differentiated by tickets, slips of paper or other physical and tangible documentation upon which appear numbers, symbols, characters or other distinctive marks used to identify and designate the winner or winners; and
(b) The winning chance or chances are to be determined by a drawing or similar selection method based predominately upon the element of chance or random selection rather than upon the skill or judgment of the player or players; and
(c) The holder or holders of the winning chance or chances are to receive a prize or something of valuable consideration; and
(d) The activity is conducted and participated in without regard to geographical location, with the player or players not being required to be present upon any particular premises or at any particular location in order to participate or to win.
SECTION 2. The following shall be codified as Section 75-76-58, Mississippi Code of 1972:
75-76-58. (1) The commission shall promulgate all rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this section, including, but not limited to, a procedure requiring the withholding of payments of progressive slot machine annuities and cash gaming winnings of persons who have outstanding child support arrearages or owing child support overpayments, prior to the payment of a progressive slot machine annuity, beginning with the second annuity payment, or cash gaming winnings. Progressive slot machine annuities or cash gaming winnings shall only include payments for which the entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, is required to file Form W2-G, or a substantially equivalent form, with the United States Internal Revenue Service.
(2) The commission may require the Department of Human Services to provide information relating to child support arrearages in a manner, format, or record approved by the commission that gives the entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, real-time or immediate electronic database access to the information. If the information relating to such arrearages or overpayments by the Department of Human Services is not available through real-time or immediate electronic database access, the licensee shall not be responsible for withholding cash gaming winnings in accordance with the provisions of this subparagraph.
(3) The commission or any entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, including any of its officers, employees, attorneys, accountants, or other agents, shall not be civilly or criminally liable to any person, including any customer, for any disclosure of information made in accordance with this section, for encumbering or surrendering assets in response to information provided by the Department of Human Services, or for any claims for damages arising from withholding or failing to withhold any progressive slot machine annuities or cash gaming winnings, based upon information provided to it.
(4) If any entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, determines that the winner of a progressive slot machine annuity or cash gaming winnings is a person who has outstanding child support arrearages, the entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall deduct the child support arrearage from the payment of the progressive slot machine annuity or cash gaming winnings. The entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall forward the deducted amount to the Department of Human Services, Division of Child Support Enforcement within seven (7) days. The entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall pay the remainder to the person who has outstanding child support arrearages. If the remainder is equal to or less than zero, the person who has an outstanding child support arrearage shall not receive a payment.
(5) The Department of Human Services shall release the encumbering game winnings to the obligee after either:
(a) A twenty-day period beginning the day the funds are encumbered; or
(b) Until such time as the issue of overdue child support is resolved, provided the obligor has filed a petition for hearing with a court of appropriate jurisdiction and served the Department of Human Services through the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi before the end of the twenty-day period.
(6) Grounds for the petition challenging the encumbrance of game winnings shall be limited to the following:
(a) Mistakes of identity; or
(b) Mistakes in amount of overdue child support.
(7) Any entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, may deduct an administrative fee from each payment of a progressive slot machine annuity, beginning with the second annuity payment, or cash gaming winnings, of persons who have outstanding child support arrearages or owe child support overpayments per singular or periodic payment, not to exceed Thirty-five Dollars ($35.00).
(8) The commission shall also require that the entity licensed or permitted under Chapter 76 of Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972, adopt procedures designed to prevent employees from willfully failing to withhold payments of progressive slot machine annuities or cash gaming winnings from persons who have outstanding child support arrearages or child support overpayments, based upon the information provided by the Department of Human Services that allows the licensee to identify such persons.
(9) Not later than July 1, 2012, the commission shall institute rulemaking procedures as necessary to implement the provisions of this section
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.