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Tournament winnings - Free play or cash?

Discussion in 'Casino Gaming' started by Kingbarkus, Jul 7, 2015.

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  1. Kingbarkus

    Kingbarkus Low-Roller

    Sep 25, 2009
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    You win 10K in a slot tourney. What is the smarter play? Collect in free play or the cash. Yes, I know about the w-2 for a cash payout, but playing off free play is no guarantee of turning it into cash. I hope to be faced with this decision in the future. (The M Resort gives you the option of taking FP or cash.)
  2. newmans

    newmans VIP Whale

    Jun 30, 2014
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Personally, I'd take the cash. On the year, I would probably have offsetting losses to reclaim the tax on a 1042-S (I'm a non US resident).
  3. DaiLun

    DaiLun R.C., L.C., and A.A.N.G., but N.A.H.

    Apr 24, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    It would depend on so many things.

    IMHO, a conservative person would take the cash and worry about the tax issues later. The gambler would take it and try to make spendable money.

    For me, it would also depend on whether it was the beginning or end of my trip, whether I was up or down at the time, whether I had $10,000 in losses to deduct against the winnings.

    Beginning - Free Play
    End - Take the cash
    Lake Tahoe/Reno for Thanksgiving, showing these 2 properties some love
    Las Vegas - $2900 Free Play, $159 R/T, couldn't pass it up.
  4. stackinchips

    stackinchips High-Roller

    Jul 13, 2009
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    That's probably the biggest thing. Early in the year without knowing if your losses will offset the win, you're looking at a net win of 10000*(1-whatever your tax rate is). So for me personally the FP is a no brainer at that point, because I only need to recoup about half the money back to break even vs. taking the cash. If I know that I'll have enough losses or close to it to offset the win, then I'd take the cash.

    Running FP through a $.25 5 or 10 play machine on JOB should net you about 85% of that FP in a worst case scenario (the VP players can probably run the numbers, but I would assume that's probably about as bad as you would do). The only way you end up with a W-2G on that play is to hit multiple royals on the same hand, so that's pretty unlikely as well.

    I'm not sure what I'd do if I won a large amount (like $50-100k). My first instinct is to opt for the FP to avoid taxes and I know I wouldn't hit that in losses, but it would take a lot more work to cycle that and not have any other W-2Gs in the process. At that point it may just be easier to take the cash, write off losses that you have and pay the taxes on the difference.
  5. zoobrew

    zoobrew Low-Roller

    May 13, 2015
    Unless you itemized your taxes for non-gambling reasons (70% of Americans don't itemize) you end up paying more taxes even if your gambling losses equal your winnings. The amount of extra taxes could be as much as your highest tax rate on the amount your standard deduction that you qualify for. Say a couple have AGI of $50k and no W-2Gs and they take the standard deduction of $12,400 they have a taxable income of $37,600, now say they have $15k in W-2Gs and equal losses they now have a AGI of $65k and an itemized deduction of $15k or a taxable income of $50,000 and they will pay $1,867 more in taxes. The $1,867 is the max amount in extra taxes that they could pay, if they have other itemized deductions they amount would be lower, but still above the non W-2G example. These are just basic examples, but most people forget the value of the standard deductions when they says gambling losses net out their W-2Gs.
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