Page 25 - Southern California Gaming Guide •  February 2019
P. 25

 by Alex Winters
If you had casino winnings over $1,199 in 2018 requiring you to sign w2-g forms, I congratulate you! But I’m sure you know your jackpots were taxable by the IRS. What if you could follow some steps to keep more of your winnings for 2019? Keep reading.
there’s Gamble Track. For Android phones, there’s Gambling Tracker. There are many apps, so experiment to find one that suits you. I started keeping a log 11 years ago via a notebook, so it
doesn’t matter which method you use for your gambling log, as long as you keep an accurate one.
Win/Loss Statements
Casino win/loss statements are essential tools for tax preparation. Win/loss statements issued by
casinos, are close estimates of what a casino guest has won and lost during a calendar year based on players club tracking information. Unless you have signed up for a casino players club, there is no way to accurately
track your wins and losses in a casino. Therefore, it’s important to sign up for players clubs at every casino you play. Get your win/loss statement from every casino in which you won a reported jackpot—or even just played—at the beginning of the calendar year.
Be a Better Bettor
I’ve always tried to learn from my play, so I added other columns to my log. One for the amount of money (bankroll) I gambled each time, and the other for the amount I left the casino with. These two columns are only for my information. I added them as I knew that I sometimes won jackpots and ended playing them all or partially back. While keeping a log is a must for tax relief, it’s also a great awareness tool of how much and how you gamble. With this information you can change your playing habits and hopefully become a more consistent winner.
Start your gambling log for 2019 now. Coupled with your casino win/loss statements, both will prove major assets in keeping as much of your jackpot winnings as possible.
Alex Winters lives in Las Vegas and is an avid sports fan & gambler.
The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15th. Despite the partial government shutdown (that ended on January 25th), the IRS plans to accept returns and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.
Consult a licensed professional tax service or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) when filing your taxes. Be aware that the federal tax laws for 2018 have changed and casino winnings could affect your tax bracket. To be clear, I’m not a CPA, but I offer these tax tips based on my own research and experience.
There are two important elements when preparing taxes as a casino player. First, keep a gambling log every year. Second, play with a player’s club card and get your win/loss statements from casinos you’ve played in. If you’re not familiar with how casinos report your winnings, we’ll start there.
The Yin & Yang of the W-2G
The IRS requires casinos to report on a w2-g form all players’ jackpots of $1,200 or more on slot machines and most other casino games. The w2-g lists your name, address and Social Security Number, plus other information regarding your win. It’s mandatory that casinos also give players a copy with their winnings clearly stated.
When filing income taxes, you are required to list all gambling and jackpot winnings $1,200 and over. Gambling winnings are taxable income. But here’s a saving grace: The IRS allows deductions of your losses up to the amount of your winnings — but only if you have documentation of your losses. Keeping a gambling log and having win/loss statements are the best proof of what you won and lost.
The Gambling Log
I keep the w2-gs I get from casinos in one place, along with all atm receipts, or other receipts showing the funds I used to play at the casino. I then note in my gambling log the wins and losses with the date, time and casino I played in. In 2018, I won a little more than I lost. And because I kept track in my gambling log and
had all my win/loss statements, I’ll be able to deduct my losses from my winnings. Therefore, I will not have to pay as much in taxes. My CPA always reminds me that I can deduct gambling losses only if I itemize the deductions.
If the IRS ever audits your tax return, you will then have the basic records to show when, where, and how much you gambled and won and lost. It’s very important your logbook is as accurate as possible to be viable.
To help with your log’s accuracy, be certain to include the following: casino name and address of where you played, date and time frame you played, type of game you played, amount(s) you won and/or lost for each session or game, proof of your winnings or losses (w2-gs, atm receipts, etc.), and the amount of money you started with and ended with.
I set up my log each year with nine column headers: Casino, Casino Address, Date Played, Time Played, Game Played, Winnings, Losses, Type of Proof, and Was it Fun? To keep accurate records, always update your logbook after each and every casino visit.
Currently I use an Excel spreadsheet for my gambling log, but you could keep a log on your phone or in a dedicated notebook. There are apps for mobile devices that are very helpful and convenient, since most of us have a phone with us 24/7. For the iPhone,

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