Page 25 - Southern California Gaming Guide •  February 2020
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 by Alex Winters
Hopefully 2019 was a great year at the casino for you with winnings requiring you to sign many w-2g forms. As I’m sure you know, all jackpots over $1199 are taxable by the irs. Would you like to keep more of your winnings by following some basic steps?
or in a dedicated notebook. There are several apps for mobile devices that are helpful, especially since most of us have a phone with us 24/7. There are many, so experiment to find one that suits you. It
doesn’t matter which method you use for your gambling log, as long as you keep an accurate detailed one.
Win/Loss Statements
Casino win/loss statements are essential tools for tax preparation. Win/loss statements issued by a
casino 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 a players
club card at every casino you play. Get your win/ loss statement from every casino in which you played before filing your taxes.
Be a Better Bettor
I’ve always tried to learn from my play, so I’ve added other columns to my log: one for the amount of money (bankroll) I gambled during each visit, and the other for the amount I left the casino with. These two columns are only for my information. I added them as I know that I sometimes won jackpots and ended playing them all or partially back. I’ve also added a section for notes where I comment on my play, how I felt, was it fun, etc. While keeping a log is a must for tax relief, it’s also a great awareness tool for how much and how you gamble. With this information you can change your playing habits and hopefully become a more consistent and satisfied winner: a better bettor.
Start your gambling log for 2020 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.
To be clear, I’m not a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), but I offer these tax tips
based on my own research and experience. Please consult a licensed professional tax service or CPA when filing your taxes.
Your 2019 tax returns are due Wednesday, April 15th, 2020. Be aware that the federal tax laws for 2019 have changed along with changes to the tax brackets, so casino winnings could affect said tax bracket. Always do your research
and be informed. You can learn more at Keeping more of your casino winnings will require two crucial components. First, keep a gambling log every year. Second, play with a players club card and get your win/loss
statements from casinos you’ve played in 2019. If you’re not familiar with how casinos report your winnings, read on.
The Good and Bad of the W-2G
The IRS requires casinos to report on a w-2g form all players’ jackpots of $1,200 or more on slot machines and most other casino games. The w-2g 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 all the w-2gs I receive 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 along with the date, time and casino I played in. I was luckier in 2019 and
won more than I lost. As I keep track in my gambling log and have all my win/loss statements, I’ll be able to deduct my losses from my winnings. Hence I will not have to pay as much in taxes. But remember, you can only deduct gambling losses if you itemize the deductions.
If you’re ever audited by the IRS you’ll be glad that you have the basic records to show when, where, 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 (w-2gs, 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

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