Taxes – A Quick Gambler’s Guide – Part 1

Wow! a Jackpot! Now What…

How many times have you finally hit that rare jackpot over $1200, your machine has locked up and here comes casino staff – much quicker than that 15-minute ago drink order.

“Congratulations!”, as they make the usual check for any machine malfunction or possible shenanigans on your part – to be expected, of course. The you are asked the famous question “would you like taxes taken out now, or will you be taking it out later?

What’s a person to do? You’re excited, nervous (unless this thing happens to you all the time like me…, and have to make this decision, usually without a lot of experience in this area.

Well, I am going to try to look into what the experts say about gambling & taxes. Today we look at the question of “tax me now, or tax me later?”

A personal true story that stopped me from ever considering getting taxes taken out instantly:
I was playing Triple Play Video Poker at the Palms in Las Vegas. Playing full-pay Bonus Poker I was dealt 10-J-Q-K of spades. Triple play, if you haven’t played it, is a VP game where you play three hands based on the deal of the bottom hand. Most Video Poker paytables jackpot of a Royal Flush is 4000 credits, and at the $.25 level, that’s under the taxable amount of anything over $1199. Well, I was extremely lucky at least I thought so at first.  I drew an Ace of spades at the top hand and a Straight Flush 9 of spades draw on the bottom for a total of 250 credits – yeah! Oh wait a minute – that’s $1249.  (Just over the $1199.)
I took the taxes immediately because I didn’t know any better and was handed a little over $900. I know I should be grateful, but on that extra $ 300 I could have played single VP all day – enough for comps, and future offers.

IRS Reporting
All casino winnings are subject to federal taxes however the IRS only requires the casinos to report any wins over $1,200 on slot and video poker machines or other games such as keno, lottery or hose racing. When you have a win equal to or greater than $1200, you will be issued a W-2G form. This form lists your name, address and social security number. The casinos are not required to take out withholding tax on jackpots under $5,000 as long you supply your social security number. If you don’t provide your social security number the casinos will withhold 28 percent on smaller jackpots.

You can request a specific amount of withholding tax to be taken out on any jackpot you win. Some players like to do this to avoid a big tax payment in April when the file their income tax returns. The additional withholding may not be necessary if you keep a log book. The law allows you to deduct gambling loses up to the amount of your winnings. You can only do this if you have documentation of your losses. Keeping a diary or logbook, is the way to do this.

However if you gamble at a specific casino, you should ask for a win/loss statement that the casino will provide to show the losses that offset your jackpot. Personally, I am able to gamble enough locally and once per year in Las Vegas to get whatever win/loss statements from different casinos to show my losses to offset that jackpot. (Boy, can I show the losses!)

IF you still don’t trust the players club, here is where it is your friend!
If you hit a big jackpot, you’ll be so happy you were a player’s club member you might just dance in the streets. If you weren’t, you might be out in the street. Using your player’s club card will allow the casino to keep track of your wins and losses. At the end of the year you can ask for a win/loss statement and they will either email or snail (if the post office is still in business) mail you a copy. That should shrink your big jackpot’s tax liability.

Tomorrow, we will get some tax tips from gaming experts. That’s all for now.



5 thoughts on “Taxes – A Quick Gambler’s Guide – Part 1

  1. Bonnie says:

    I’m sure your memory of the hand pay is correct (can’t forget those for sure!). I just thought I was missing something. Maybe it was a progressive and the RF was worth more – even 2 SFs wouldn’t put you over the $1200. Either way – congrats!

  2. binbin415 says:

    Right again. Hmmm. Something is wrong with my memory. Could I have hit another SF? It was years ago at the Palms when they were independent and had tons of full pay VP. I apologize for the bad recollection, but I did get a hand pay of $900 and change.

  3. Bonnie says:

    Still confused – where is the other $200 coming from? RF – 4000 credits and SF – 250 credits for 4250 credits which is $1062.50 and under the tax limit.

  4. binbin415 says:

    You caught my typo, thank you. It was actually $1262.50, just enough over the $1200 limit. Thank you for reading the post. I’ll correct it.

  5. Bonnie says:

    I’m confused on your win at the Palms. Isn’t a SF 250 credits which is $62.50 so your total win was $1062.50 which is under the taxable threshold? Or am I missing something?

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