How Are Gambling Winnings Taxed?

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Most people don’t think about taxes on their way to a racetrack or casino, but what might seem like nothing more than the chance to win some extra money actually carries significant tax implications. As is often the case, federal and state governments single out casino winnings for unique taxes of their own. Here is what you need to know about reporting gambling winnings:

How Much You Win Matters

It’s important for you to know the thresholds that require income reporting. Winnings in the following amounts must be reported:

  • $600 or more at a horse track (if that is 300 times your bet)
  • $1,200 or more at a slot machine or bingo game
  • $1,500 or more in keno winnings
  • $5,000 or more in poker tournament winnings
All of these require giving the payer your Social Security number, as well as filling out IRS Form W2-G to report the full amount won. In most cases, the casino will take 25 percent off your winnings for the IRS before even paying you.
Not all gambling winnings in the amounts above are subject to IRS Form W2-G. W2-G forms are not required for winnings from table games such as blackjack, craps, baccarat, and roulette, regardless of the amount. Note that this does not mean you are exempt from paying taxes or reporting the winnings. Any and all gambling winnings must be reported to the IRS. It only means that you do not have to fill out Form W2-G for these particular table-based games.

Reporting Smaller Winnings

Even if you do not win as much as the amounts above, you are still legally obligated to report. You also need to report any awards or prize money you won during the year in question. Yes, even if you only win $10, you still technically have to report it (even if the casino didn’t). Gambling income plus your job income (and any other income) equals your total income.

Fortunately, you do not necessarily have to pay taxes on all your winnings. Instead, if you itemize your deductions, you can claim your losses up to the amount of your winnings.
*Note, under the new tax reform law, the gambling loss limitation was modified. Prior to the new tax reform law, taxpayers’ costs (like transportation and admission fees) could be claimed regardless of winnings. But beginning with tax year 2018 (the taxes you will file in 2019) all expenses in connection with gambling and not just gambling losses are limited to gambling winnings.

What About State Taxes?

In addition to federal taxes payable to the IRS, many state governments tax gambling income as well. Each state has their own unique formulas and rules for gambling income, and some levy no gambling taxes at all. Others charge a flat percentage, while still others ramp up the percentage owed depending on how much you won.
Don’t worry about knowing these and other tax laws. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax credits and deductions you are eligible for based on your answers. If you still have questions at tax-time, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered. A TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent can even review, sign, and file your tax return.

Comments (432) Leave your comment

  1. I won 300,000 in Illinois lottery and when I went to pick up my check it came to 206,000. The IRS sent me a W-2G form. Why do I have to file this again , if it was already deducted at the lottery office ?

  2. My son is a college student and 19. He went with some friends to an Indian Casino. He did not plan on gambling. He registered for the casino card that you swipe for points, etc. They had a promotional giveaway setup where you swiped that card to see if you were a “promotional giveaway” winner. He swiped it and won $10,000. Does he owe taxes? They gave him a check for the full amount.

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