What Happens if I Don’t Report My Casino Winnings?

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a woman sitting at a green felt casino poker table with a pile of poker chips and a handful of money
BetMGM Jun 15, 2023, 1:21 AM

Gambling winnings can be an exciting and potentially lucrative prospect, but it’s important to understand the legal and financial requirements associated with them. When you play casino games, including online casino games, you assume tax obligations. Understanding the specific tax laws and regulations in your jurisdiction is vital. Individuals may be tempted to avoid reporting their gambling winnings to tax authorities, unaware of the potential consequences. 

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn the implications of not reporting your winnings, including the penalties for non-compliance, the threshold for reporting and the tax obligations you may face. Additionally, you can take a look at how you can use gambling losses to offset your taxable income.

Consequences of Not Reporting Gambling Winnings

This mainly depends on the amount you’ve failed to report, your overall earnings, as well as your overall tax history. Failing to report gambling winnings may not result in immediate legal consequences, especially for amounts below $1,200. However, consistent non-reporting increases the likelihood of tax authorities taking note.

In the United States, the IRS may contact you regarding discrepancies on your tax form. Ignoring these notices can lead to court summonses or penalties. Evading taxes is not advisable, as it can result in serious repercussions with the tax office. It is also a federal offense. Penalties from the IRS can include hefty fines, interest charges and even criminal prosecution in extreme cases. It is important to understand that any income earned, regardless of its source, is subject to taxation.

As soon as you register to play casino games online, these online casinos start keeping records of your casino game activities. They may be legally required to share information about significant winnings with tax authorities. If you fail to report your gambling winnings, the tax authorities may eventually discover the unreported income through their own investigations or through information provided by the casino.

Threshold for Reporting Winnings

It is a common misconception that only significant casino winnings need to be reported. The IRS requires you to report all gambling winnings, regardless of the amount. Whether you win $10 or $10,000, the income should be reported on your tax return.

Generally, you’ll receive an IRS Form W-2G if your gambling winnings are at least $600 and the payout is at least 300 times the amount of your wager.

  • For bingo and online slots winnings, the threshold is $1,200
  • For keno winnings, the threshold is $1,500
  • For poker tournament winnings, the threshold is $5,000

If you win a non-cash prize, such as a car or a trip, report its fair market value as income. The threshold for reporting serves as a baseline for the casino or gambling establishment to report your winnings to the IRS, ensuring that taxpayers cannot evade their tax obligations.

Tax Obligations on Gambling Winnings

The tax rate on gambling winnings depends on various factors, including the type of gambling activity, your total income and the applicable tax laws in your jurisdiction.

In the United States, for instance, gambling winnings are generally subject to federal income tax at the same rates as ordinary income. However, depending on your state of residence, you may also be subject to state income taxes on your gambling winnings. The federal gambling winnings tax is typically 24%, but it may increase to 28% if identification is not provided. Recent legislative changes could also impact the tax rate.

When you prepare your taxes for the year in which you won a gambling payout, you’ll report the income and the taxes already paid on it under “Other Income” on your Form 1040. However, playing at licensed and reputable casinos and sports betting houses generally ensures proper compliance with tax-related activities.

Are There Exceptions to the Rules?

Certain table casino games like blackjack, craps and roulette, which are considered games of skill rather than chance, do not require casinos to withhold taxes or issue a W2-G form for large winnings. The IRS has made this distinction, although the reasoning behind it is unclear.

However, it is still your responsibility to report your winnings to the IRS when filing your taxes for the year, even if the taxes on winnings at casinos aren’t withheld at the time of payout.

When cashing in chips from a table game, the casino cannot accurately determine the exact amount you initially wagered. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain thorough records of your gambling activities, including both losses and gains. By documenting your expenses and winnings, you may potentially offset your taxable income. For instance, if you spent $2,000 to win $2,000, you might be able to avoid paying taxes on the winnings. This is explained further below.

 Using Gambling Losses To Deduct Taxes

One significant advantage for taxpayers who engage in gambling activities is the ability to deduct gambling losses to offset taxable gambling winnings. However, there are a few things to consider.

Itemizing Deductions

To claim gambling losses, you must itemize deductions on your tax return rather than opting for the standard deduction. The IRS would expect you to keep the original or a copy of your payment slips, receipts, tickets and W-2G forms.

Losses Cannot Exceed Winnings

You can only deduct gambling losses up to the amount of your reported gambling winnings. For example, if you had $5,000 in gambling winnings and $7,000 in gambling losses, you can only deduct $5,000.

Detailed Documentation

The IRS requires detailed records of your gambling activities, including dates, locations, amounts wagered and winnings or losses incurred. Maintaining a gambling diary or log is good practice for audits.

Avoid Consequences

Failing to report your gambling winnings can lead to severe consequences, including financial penalties, interest charges and potential criminal prosecution. Regardless of the amount won, it is essential you comply with tax regulations and accurately report all income earned from gambling activities. By doing so, you not only fulfill your legal obligations but also maintain your financial integrity.

Familiarize yourself with the specific tax laws in your jurisdiction, as the tax rates and regulations may vary. Finally, keep in mind that using gambling losses to offset taxable gambling winnings can help you minimize your tax liability.

Stay on Track With BetMGM

While you may need some time to get familiar with the regulations surrounding taxes on winnings, you’ll have no trouble getting accustomed to the many gambling options available on BetMGM. Register to explore a world of online slots, poker, blackjack and other games of chance. For those who like to play the field, there is also a wide array of sports betting options to indulge in, including horse racing, football, MMA and golf, among many others.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.