It’s impossible to answer every gambling question on the Internet but every now and then I see some interesting questions. I’ve finally decided to answer a few that don’t need much exposition that applies to both land-based casino gambling and gambling through online casinos.
1 – Are Gambling Losses Tax Deductible?
I don’t know anyone who reports gambling losses on their tax returns so I had to look this one up. In the United States I.R.S. rules do allow you to report your gambling losses provided:
- You report your winnings;
- Your reported losses don’t exceed your winnings;
- You itemize your deductions.
So if you’re thinking, I lost $20,000 gambling this year and I’ll write it off my taxes give up that dream, my friends. You have to win at least $20,000 from gambling to be able to deduct those $20,000 in losses.
If you gamble a lot and believe you have lost enough money to deduct it from your taxes, seek out professional tax advice. Don’t get it from the Internet. That’s playing with fire.
2 – Are Gambling Winnings Included in Gross Income?
Within the strictest requirements of the law, yes. You are required to report your income from gambling.
If you’ve only won small amounts throughout the year it’s doubtful the tax man will start seizing your property to pay off a tax debt for unreported gambling income.
If you’ve won big prizes at casinos and filled out paper work you should have kept copies of everything for your tax returns.
I always have the casino take taxes out of my winnings. I don’t want to stick myself with a huge debt at the end of the year. But as I said in the previous question, seek professional tax advice if you’re not sure of what you should report on your income tax returns.
3 – Will Gambling Affect Your Home Loan?
Well, I don’t know many professional gamblers who support themselves solely from their gambling income. And I haven’t talked to any of them for years.
But I did hear a few stories from gambling friends about people who financed cars and homes that were repossessed because their gambling losses became too great to support their lifestyles.
At least one of those people only made money from gambling and he lost an expensive car. So I would say it depends on the lender.
In my experience I’ve never been asked if I gamble when applying for a loan. Lenders do ask for my source of income and so I guess a professional gambler would have to say something.
All the lenders care about is your ability to pay your debts. They pull your credit history and let the computers do the number crunching.
If you’re gambling with your mortgage payments then there is a very good chance that will affect your home loan – and not in a good way.
4 – Where In the Bible Does It Say Gambling Is a Sin?
If search the word “gambling” on Bible Gateway you will find it is not mentioned in any modern translation.
Many Christians believe that gambling is morally wrong and a sin but the Bible has nothing to say about the topic. I’ve tried to read a few essays by ministers who argue that gambling is wrong but they didn’t do a very convincing job, in my opinion.
In that respect, many Christians who pray for guidance and cast lots are gambling. They’re not staking something of value in a casino but they are going through the motions of gambling. In their defense, these religious people believe they are allowing God to guide their choices, not trying to become wealthy through games of chance.
Even so, as far as I am concerned, gambling is no more of a sin than watching a movie or listening to a concert. But there are some religious groups who believe those activities are sinful.
You’ll have to decide for yourself what to believe.
5 – Which Gambling is Profitable?
As often as gamblers compare their games to “betting on the stock market”, I can think of two types of gambling that are profitable.
The first kind of gambling is beating the house. Casinos are responsible for paying all prizes in their games. They may make big profits from players’ losses but they also pay some pretty big jackpots.
The casino house edge ensures that – over the long run – the casino retains a significant portion of player wagers. Players’ choices add a little extra to the casinos’ revenues.
The other form of gambling that is profitable is speculation. Speculation isn’t always profitable. But then, not every casino succeeds in business.
It’s gambling if you’re staking your wealth on an uncertain outcome. Investors and speculators only differ slightly in my opinion.
An investor is looking for a solid business opportunity to finance – and hoping for growth in the value of the assets he buys.
A speculator is betting his wealth on future interest in whatever asset he buys. A gambler is betting on the outcome of an immediate event like a card game or a roll of the dice. A speculator may have to wait months or years for his gambit to pay off.
Stock market investors who take the biggest risk are probably people who buy and sell long-term options contracts. The seller is hoping to either sell shares at a profit when the options mature or for the buyer to let the options expire. The buyer is hoping to buy the shares when they are really cheap compared to market price.
Gambling in any form is profitable when you pull your money out of the game or the market and walk away with it. Of course most people who gamble keep playing after they win.
6 – What Is the Gambling Mecca Near Hong Kong?
That would be Macao.
Like Hong Kong, Macao is a former European colony that has been returned to China’s full sovereignty. Macao was colonized by the Portuguese several hundred years ago. Unlike most other European colonies at the time, Macau was leased from the Chinese government and never fully claimed by the Portuguese, although the city enjoyed a special legal relationship with Portugal.
Hong Kong does not permit gambling but gambling has been permitted in Macau for many years. Macau began constructing large casino resorts only in the last few decades after its gambling laws were revised.
Most of the people who gamble in Macau are Chinese mainlanders. Their favorite game is baccarat but the big Macau casinos offer all types of gambling games, including slot machine games.
7 – Is It Possible to Gamble Without Money?
Well, there are free games like sweepstakes where you might win substantial prizes without putting up any money. You usually must fill out an entry form. In the United States it is illegal for any sweepstakes to require people to purchase something in order to participate.
And there are some other unusual ways you can gamble without money. I don’t recommend any of them.
Some people scrounge for lottery tickets. You used to hear stories about people finding winning lottery tickets in old coats and stuff. I’ve seen people digging scratch tickets out of the trash.
What the scratch ticket scroungers are looking for are tickets eligible for “Second Chance” games. They take the tickets home and enter them into their state lottery accounts.
You might find a real winner this way. My wife and I sometimes play scratch off tickets and I insist we enter the losers in second chance drawings. We’ve found a few winners we’ve missed along the way.
It stands to reason people accidentally throw away a few winning lottery tickets.
I know someone who borrowed $2,000 off a credit card and used it to win $4,000 the same night. He paid back the credit card the next day. So he got an almost free loan – paying only a processing fee to the casino cashier – and came out about $2000 ahead.
I don’t recommend gambling like this.
I love researching unusual gambling questions. Sometimes these are questions that hang around in the back of my mind. But it’s encouraging to see I’m not the only person who wonders about these things.
I hope you found the answers useful!