UNITED STATES—Different countries through the taxman have rules that apply to the entire gambling business. Most taxing agencies consider cash and non-cashable winnings as taxable income. Whenever you are out to gamble, you need to understand the basics of gambling tax law to avoid unnecessary penalties.

Know how to report your payouts and how your gambling losses can be your advantage. This article is a guide focusing on the details you as a gambler must know in how gambling winnings are taxed.

Professional Gambling

Professional gamblers will engage in gambling activities to earn a living because to a taxman, your total income is the job income, any other income, and gambling income. As a professional, you need to declare gambling and expenses.

How to Report Winnings

All your winnings should reflect on the tax return. You are under obligation to report small winnings and prizes because the same tax rate applies to all monies. Failure to issue the player with your tax ID number, the federal authorities will charge the establishment a withholding tax. Withholding is allowed when winning, excluding the bet is more than $5,000 or a minimum of 300X your bet.

The casino should offer a tax certificate they use to report all your tax winnings to the authorities. Winnings are reported to the taxman based on the game the payout came from. For example, table games such as roulette, baccarat, craps, and blackjack require a separate form and forwarded to the tax authorities.

Winning a bingo or on a slot machine jackpot, the winnings must be reported if they are above $1,200. Any payouts above $1,500 from keno games also need reporting. Poker events require reporting if winnings are in excess of $5,000. Any winnings above $600 or 300X, your wager should be reported as winnings from a horse track.

When two Players Share Winnings

When you and other players share a gambling prize, there is a specific form for these kinds of forms. After the casino’s deduction of the tax rate, the remaining amount is divided among all winners then reports the gambling winnings under the players’ names.

What about the Losses

For taxation purposes, you need to report the losses as well. Reporting on the money lost during a gambling activity, tax authorities may allow you to deduct the losses to save you some money. A deduction is allowed by itemizing gambling deductions and then creates a schedule and documentation of each winning and losses. The best way to document is to report the two items separately and not only give the net figure.

Gambling losses are miscellaneous deductions and are not subject to the 2% limit. It may not be practical to deduct all gambling losses. You can deduct the losses up the gambling winning amount. It is important to note that you may not get the maximum tax benefit if the itemized deductions are below standard deductions. Itemized deductions include charitable donations, home mortgage interests, and medical expenses.

Illegal Gambling

Winnings from illegal gambling are taxable when the taxing authorities note a huge sum of money went into illegal gambling. Some form of betting, such as gambling, may be legal in some states; therefore, any winnings coming from them are taxable.

Gambling Records

Taxing authorities demand that you have in detail all winnings and losses in gambling. Any gambling-related documents such as receipts, bank statements, and cancelled checks the establishment issued to you. Having these documents will help prove all your winnings and losses in your final account.

Details the documents should have include:

  • Date
  • The amount representing winning and losses
  • Location, name, and address of the establishment
  • Gambling activity
  • Names of those present when gambling was taking place
  • Some specific gambling activities may need you to give the following information to prove both winning and losses:
  • Slot machines require recording of the winning date, time of the game, and machine number.
  • Racing events need a record of the races lost amount from the losing tickets, the amount won on winning tickets, wagers of amount, unredeemed tickets, and payment records.
  • Table games should have a proof of table number and the establishment credit card data on where the credit was issued.
  • For bingo, show the amount of tickets you bought, games played, the amount collected on the winning tickets and receipts from the casino.
  • Keno requires copies of casino credit data and check cashing records. Give the taxman with keno tickets bought on the day of the gambling establishment authorized the cards.
  • For the lotteries, give records of winning dates, dates losses were made, payment slips, purchased tickets, winning statements, unredeemed tickets, and tickets


Legal dollars made from gambling is government money and taken from a gambler as taxable income. The most important thing to do is keeping records of both winnings and losses, including the relevant details every time you gamble. The information on your gambling activity comes in handy at the time of deductions at the end of the year.