Tax on Casino Winnings

Are you paying tax on your casino winnings? It sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? Well, take it from me, it’s the law, and you better abide by the law or else you will get a very fond letter from your local tax service notifying you about a discrepancy in your tax statement.

Now, you are probably thinking, “gambling winnings are mine to keep.” Look, I agree, but the law is usually slightly more intrusive. Income, whatever its nature, should always be taxed unless there is some specific exemption for your specific jurisdiction. How can you know? Well, you will have to research what constitutes taxable income where you live.

Gambling losses, though, do not constitute a taxable income, so that is a relief. For the rest of your gambling winnings, though, you must report it. Just because you have got away with some small sum, there is no guarantee that the taxmen won’t catch up to you. In fact, you can be one hundred per cent sure that the tax office sees all your income whether you submit it voluntarily.

It’s generally a very bad idea to try to hide your gambling winnings. Now, just remember that what constitutes as winnings is the sum you are walking out of the casino with. In other words, if you win big and then stake it all and lose it, you don’t have to pay any tax on that. Well, you see, there are some upsides on your gambling losses.

Now, let’s look at what income is taxable when it comes to gambling winnings. There may be some differences across different jurisdictions, so please make sure to check with your local legislation.

What Gambling Winnings Are Taxed?

Now, as it turns out, there are different tax rates for different gambling winnings, and you will have to figure it out. The good news is you don’t have to be a walking encyclopedia. All you need is to just go to your tax office’s official page and see what income you are trying to submit. Are you trying to report your WSOP Bracelet or you have perhaps just won a jackpot?

In another case, you may have got lucky with blackjack, baccarat or casino roulette, or perhaps even your Kentucky Derby horse finished first. There are just so many scenarios to generate gambling winnings that naturally, the conditions will see-saw a little. You can surely bet that one thing is still true, though.

All gambling winnings are taxable, but you must know-how. Some players may focus on more skill-based games such as poker, and even sports betting, and try to focus on the segments that have lower tax, to begin with. Now, these are mostly profession gamblers, but I don’t think that the tax rate will determine the choice of game.

An example would be if Daniel Negreanu found out that his income from poker tournaments was taxed at 30%. He would probably still be a poker player and a very good one at that rather than switching to video poker or becoming a sports bettor.

Each jurisdiction is free to determine the income tax on winnings and losses, although I assure you, you won’t have to pay for your gambling losses. Now that you know that all gambling winnings are taxable, though, and constitute a federal income in the United States, it’s time to explore some other things, such as deductibles!

Deductibles: A Blessing from All High

Now, gamblers really don’t like to lose. That’s just a fact of life, same as the sun rises from the East and sets in the West. However, for anyone doing their gambling tax return, losses are actually a blessing! Gambling losses are deductibles, which in accountant speak means that you can remove them from the amount you owe to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the equivalent of that institution in your own country.

Here is the good news, too! While you absolutely must declare your gambling winnings, you also have to declare your gambling losses. Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, there is another pesky condition that you must meet before you do. You have to keep a very accurate and factual diary about gambling winnings and losses.

Now, how difficult is to do that? Well, it really depends. Some people like to do their taxes on the spot and don’t wait for the deadlines to pile up. That’s the best approach. Every time you visit a casino and have taken the money back with you, you will have to come back home and log everything that happened in the casino.

That is the golden rule that I have found out to work with reporting your taxes. The more consistent you are, the better results you will get and sooner at that! It could be a little pesky, but once you have the habit, you will find keeping track of your gambling winnings and losses a piece of cake. It would be so much easier to deduct gambling losses from your tax statement, too, making for a neat write-off at the end of the reporting period.

However, keep in mind that to deduct gambling losses, you have to keep a very accurate diary of your gambling winnings and losses as I have mentioned before. If you pick the habits today, you will have no issue tomorrow!

What If I Fail to Report My Gambling Winnings?

Alright, so everyone thinks they can be a few smartie pants. If you are purposefully failing to report your gambling winnings, that is the worst. Now, don’t get me wrong. The IRS (or the equivalent of tax service in your country) won’t go after you in an all-out, guns a-blazing manner. Instead, they will first kindly remind you that you have forgotten to report some of your gambling winnings after all.

Well, that’s no biggie, the tax office will reassure you, but to truly make things right, an honest tax return is really something you should try to implement as a policy. Just remember – keeping your gambling winnings and losses diary nice and up to date will help you stay on point.

Of course, many people tend to opt-out of some tax payments even though they evidently should. For example, in Canada, if you work as a croupier, i.e. a live dealer and you get tipped often enough, you still have to report that amount. Some croupiers have been summoned in court for withholding colossal amounts of tips.

So, you see! Everyone should report their income. It’s not just you as a gambler. The question here is what specifically happens when you don’t report your winnings. Well, that depends on the institution trying to collect the income tax, but usually, as I mentioned, you get a letter.

The letter appeals to your better nature and asks you to quickly declare your tax and fix your tax return. You can ignore it, and another letter will come and then the third one. Then you may end up in court, which isn’t fun. You see, there is no escaping the taxman. It may take them years to catch a small discrepancy, but they will inevitably catch it.

It’s the parable about the rabbit and the turtle. The turtle always wins in the end. So think of yourself as the rabbit and remember who finishes the line first.

Don’t Want to Pay? Here’s What Will Happen

If you are withholding tax income payment with malicious intent, i.e. you are hiding your gambling winnings in a very purposeful and intentional way, you must expect severe consequences. It’s one thing to fail to put together itemised deductions. It’s another matter to be actively trying to lie on your tax return.

If you are lying to hide your actual income, tax authorities won’t take kindly to you. Your tax return will be annulled, and a punitive interest will start accruing. You see, gambling income is federal income or state income, and you should definitely not hide it.

The cases where you would end up in jail are a few if we are talking about pure gambling winnings here. However, you must keep in mind that the more inventive you are in withholding income tax, the more disfavorably would the tax office look at you. Gambling is fun, but just like anything else, it comes with a responsibility.

In this case, it’s the responsibility to have itemised deductions adequately and make sure you are doing your best to submit an honest tax return. To many, it may seem like a little thing to hide an amount of money or not report their gambling winnings on Form W-2G. Well, let me assure you that there is nothing trivial about that.

The truth is you won’t end up in jail unless you have been winning hundreds of thousands of dollars and systematically failed to put them on your tax return as income tax. However, you will get into trouble with Uncle Sam and his equivalent elsewhere.

How Do I Keep My Winnings and Losses Right?

Now, there are conscientious gamers out there, I am sure. You who are reading this are probably one of those folks who are more than eager to pay their taxes, and that is normal. However, how do you go from a mere player to paying your gambling taxes? Well, it’s easy. You should first find out what you are paying for. The safest and surest way to do this is to keep your winnings and losses organised.

Now, you are probably thinking – that takes so much time to handle. Well, it’s certainly a little time-consuming, but, here is the good news. You don’t have to do it all at the same time. Not quite, not at all! Instead, you can focus on developing the useful habits that will allow you to keep winnings and losses straight and not have to worry about a thing.

First, as I said before, make sure to approach your tax return form, be that form W-2G or something else. You have to want and put to your tax return honestly so your tax office can process it. Sure, if you win big, you would most likely want to keep all your income intact. I mean, why split the money with the government, right? Well, because this is the law to put it simply.

To report your income adequately, all you need to do is just start your tax diary and put in all your winnings and gambling losses. If you do that, I assure you your W-2G form will be a piece of cake to fill out. Not only that, but you will be able to deduct gambling losses without any trouble.

Before long, you will be able to have full control of your gambling income and really make things easy for yourself. Who wouldn’t want that after all?

Do I Pay Tax on All My Gambling Winnings?

Now, that is a great question. Once again, I will advise you the exact same thing – you will not be able to know your local tax legislation by heart, but you don’t have to. All you need to do is check with your local legislation. Now, the truth is you don’t really have to pay for all your gambling taxes. For example, you may be exempt of any tax if the sum doesn’t meet a certain threshold.

That seems handy, and it will really help you keep the bulk of your winnings, especially if you are winning a little at a time. Besides, it makes it so much easier to handle your tax return every year. In any event, you should have no issue with your tax money as it were. Just make sure to find out more about your gambling income first before going on skipping on your W-2G form or taking a rather arbitrary and unjustified road with your tax return form.

Can’t the Casino Settle Taxes for Me?

Now, it really depends on the law. I know, that’s getting old. If you go to casinos in Las Vegas, and you are an American, you will see the casinos issuing a W-2G form for you or/and report your gambling income in some form. However, you must declare that amount yourself as well. After all, it’s your income, and just because the casino has done the hard work for you, it doesn’t mean that the government doesn’t need confirmation.

Otherwise, anyone could just issue a tax return in your name. That’s why you must report your gambling income amount in full, and that is why the government trusts you to do it. Of course, preparing a tax return is such a pesky time. Combing through your winnings and then trying to deduct gambling losses isn’t too fun. However, it’s all a necessary part of being a gambler.

Now, you must keep all documentation you get from a casino about the amount you have won, and even lost. You deduct your gambling losses from your gambling income, and you must report that. Now, the government won’t be upset if you didn’t, but it will certainly hurt your income in the long term. Therefore, building the habits, you always need to report your income truthfully is best.

Winnings or losses, just put them on your tax return, deduct gambling losses where necessary and report the full amount. That’s all it takes to be in the clear and enjoy your gambling even more.

Conclusion: Paying Gambling Income Tax Is Smart

Ultimately, if you plan to have a worry-free experience playing your favourite casino games, there is certainly only one way to approach the subject. You don’t want to be caught on the law’s bad side. In fact, it’s counter-intuitive and plain disruptive. If you systematically fail to report your income amount from gambling, this means the IRS, or whoever the regulator is, will monitor you closely.

I don’t think there is a person who wants to be vetted year in and year out for tax discrepancies, outside of normal procedures. Alright, the good news is you don’t have to be. Just state the amount that constitutes your gambling losses truthfully, and you won’t have a problem with any authority.

If you do need help making sense of your taxes, don’t hesitate to reach out to an accountant. I know it sounds like a little too much right now, but it’s the best way to actually settle your gambling income.


  • How do you pay taxes on casino winnings?

    To pay tax for your casino winnings, you simply have to declare them as an income. Keep receipts and all documents accompanying winnings. Players must report the full amount they have won and deducted gambling losses.

  • What happens if I don't claim my casino winnings on my taxes?

    If you fail to state your gambling income to the government, the tax office will approach you. They may first only remind you about the discrepancy and ask you to fix it. Then again, they may issue a penalty and enforce a punitive interest.

  • Do Casino report winnings to IRS?

    Yes, casinos do report gambling income per player to the IRS. However, players must declare the same amount themselves. Not doing so is breaking the law and is punishable by existing statutes.

  • Do you have to pay state taxes on casino winnings?

    This depends solely on your state or government. State taxes on casino winnings will vary from one state to the next, so make sure to check that with your legislation.

Leave a Reply