What do I need to collect my winnings?
Do you need your Social Security card to claim your money if you win?
See the answer »
Ryan, I like your optimism. The official word from the IRS is that all gambling winnings are taxable and offsetting losses must be included in itemized deductions in your yearly tax return. Since the rare Vegas win usually isn't for a large amount, I doubt very seriously many people follow this rule to the letter. In practice this rule would probably only be a factor if you hit a slot or bingo jackpot of at least $1,200, a $1,500 payout in keno or scored at least $600 on some kind of exotic bet that paid at a rate at least 300 times what you wagered. In those cases the casino would withhold 25 percent if can document your Social Security Number (which is where having your card with you would come in handy) or 28 percent if you can't. Non-citizens have 30 percent withheld.
Rules are different for table games, though. Since the casino doesn't know for sure how much you started with, they don't know for certain how much of a profit you make. So nothing is withheld from table-game winnings. But the IRS expects you to do the right thing and report your winnings.
In the event you were to score really big and cash out $10,000 or more you would be required to fill out a short form, but that has nothing to do with taxes. It's just the notification the government requires on all cash transactions of that amount.
If you hit that big jackpot, don't forget your buddies at FirstTimeLasVegas.com.