slot machine winnings

Taxes on Slot Machine Winnings Explained

Go into any casino anywhere in the world, and you can be sure that the punters stood or sat in front of the slots machines are all dreaming of hitting a big jackpot. Just imagine, the reels coming to a stop on the right symbols, the pregnant pause and then the sudden rush as the slot machine starts making all those noises that tell everyone within a 5 km radius, that you’re the winner. We can all dream! But jackpot slots machine winnings have some practical considerations to take heed of. For one thing, even though you won fair and square, as with all things in the life the taxman will want his share.

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Taxes on Slot Machine Winnings in the USA

If you’re in Las Vegas or Atlantic City when you press the winning button, then you’ll have an option of how you actually receive your winnings. The casino can cut you a check or you can take cash. For larger amounts expect the former. Now, by law, the IRS can only touch winnings that are greater than $1,200. Not a life-altering amount, but at least better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. You’ll need to show an official form of ID, be it a passport (which we can guarantee anyone playing slots in a casino won’t have) or a driving license. And, of course, you need to be older than the minimum age set to be allowed to play in the casino in the first place. This will vary from state to state.

slot machine winnings
Good Luck! – Image source: Flickr

Do I Have to Report All Winnings?

Well, in theory, you don’t have the worry of reporting any wins, as the casino will report it for their own books. Keep in mind that all slot machine winnings higher than $1,200 are subject to federal taxes. That applies to both cash prizes and non-cash prizes, like cars. It’s the same law that applies to all forms of gambling winnings, be they from the lottery, bingo, keno, or poker. Essentially all your casino winnings will have to appear on your tax return as “other income” on the form 1040, Schedule 1.

Slot Machine Winnings in W-2G Form

Now, if you’re lucky enough to score a big win, then the casino will ask you to fill out a different form. This one is form W-2G and you’ll be needing to list your name, address, and social security number. With this form, you’ll have a higher rate of federal tax withheld, meaning that you’ll receive 25% less. Ouch! But if you fail to provide the requested information, then the tax withholding rate jumps up to 28%. But whatever the case, for bigger wins, this form W-2G will be issued, with a copy of it being sent off to those nice people at the tax office by the casino itself.

Other Gambling With Form W-2G

Bingo (for players who win $1,200 or more),
Keno (for at least $1,500 worth wins)
Jackpot Poker tournament players (for the $5,000 win or more).
Horse track racing (if the winnings are 300x your bet)

Strangely enough, this form isn’t required for all gambling activities. For example, the winnings from casino table jackpot games like blackjack, baccarat, and roulette don’t need this form, no matter how large the amount won. You will still have to report these winnings as earnings to the IRS, but not with this form.

slot machine winnings
What was your biggest slot prize? – Image source: Flickr

Are My Slot Losses Deductible?

Yes, they are! So you can deduct your previous losses from your slot machine winnings, but only up to the value of said win. You’ll be needing form Schedule A, Form 1040. So, let’s say that you won $200 on the slots but you previously lost $400, then you can only deduct up to $200 of losses. Keep in mind that if you didn’t have any wins during the previous year, then you’ll have nothing to deduct from.

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Tracking Your Wins And Losses

You’ll be needing to provide proof of any wins or losses as the taxman will require these. So, whenever you lose, for example, be sure to hang on to any losing tickets, canceled checks, and credit slips. Be certain that the documentation you’re keeping back actually has the amounts written on them, along with the date and time, type of bet, the type of gambling activity, and the name and address of the casino if that’s where the action took place. You can even list the friends you were with, in case the taxman asks for further proof.

Do State and Local Taxes Apply Separately?

This is a good question. Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding “Yes”! You must pay taxes on both state and local levels. So, if you head out of state to gamble and have some good fortune, then the other state will want a share of your winnings. So that you’re not taxed twice, your own state will issue you will a tax credit for the taxes you pay into another state coffers. Oh, do keep in mind that some states, don’t allow you to claim back against losses. These include Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Ohio.

Online Slot Taxes

Now that we’ve all living in the internet age, those slot machine winnings from online gambling have to be taken into account by the taxman. The first point to get out of the way is that ALL income, from anywhere in the world that flows into the pockets of US citizens is taxable income. So if you win big on the online slots, you’ll need to fill out the form W-2G, providing that the win is bigger than $1,200.

Taxes on Slot Machine Winnings in the UK

So, let’s cross the Atlantic and see how they do things, tax-wise, over there. If you’re a UK resident, then you get to keep all your winnings. It doesn’t matter if they come from winning the lottery, having a massive payout at a slots machine in a casino, or playing poker at the games table. It’s all yours to keep. Whether you win £5 or £5 million, the taxman doesn’t want to know. But if you’re a professional gambler, you can’t deduct losses as you can in the US.

slot machine winnings
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Taxes on Slot Machine Winnings in Canada

Here we make a distinction between a professional player and an amateur. So if you’re the latter, and just have a flutter once in a while, then there’s zero tax on your winnings. If on the other hand, you’re a pro, then you’ll pay tax as if it were any other full-time job. That’s because according to the law in Canada, there’s a distinction between an inconstant and a constant source of income. So if you don’t make a living from gambling, then they’re no taxes to pay. The same rule applies to the Canadian lottery.

Taxes on Slot Machine Winnings in Australia

If you happen to be an Australian resident, then all winnings from any sort of gambling are not taxable. There are three main reasons for this: 1. Gambling is not a profession, as it’s treated as a hobby, 2. Profits from gambling are not regarded as income, but simply as good luck, and finally, 3. The government taxes the casinos and sportsbooks, not the customers.

Taxes on Slot Machine Winnings in New Zealand

The New Zealand government has a different take on things from their antipodean neighbors. All casino winnings are fair game for the taxman. But though they’re considered for tax, it’s very rare to be actually taxed on them. That’s because gambling is considered to be a recreational activity and not a source of income.

Conclusion: Taxes on Slot Machine Winnings Explained

It looks like the taxman will have his cut of any earning you may make from slot machine winnings at the casino. Or any other gambling or betting event. That is, apart from the UK, where all of the winnings are yours to keep.

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