Dear Mark: Because I don’t keep track of my wins and losses when I play, my accountant has asked me for a win/loss statement from the casino where I play so I might be able to write off some of my gambling losses. How do I go about getting one? Jim D.
When you use your player’s card, Jim, it documents your play. If you flip it over, there should be a telephone number on the backside. Just ask the rep when you call that you would like a win/loss statement sent to you. Likewise, if you visit the casino often, you can also drop by the slot club booth and request a statement. They probably can print it out for you straight away.
You, or in this case your accountant, will report your gambling winnings on a 1040 tax form on the Other Income Line. You report any gambling losses on Schedule A, Line 28, Miscellaneous Deductions. Your accountant is looking to offset your tax liability on your wins by reporting your losses. If you keep impeccable records while you play, the IRS will accept a written log detailing the date of your wagers, the location, amount of the bet, type of gaming, and wins and losses as documentation. If you don’t, a win/loss statement from the casino definitely helps.
Quick note: Gambling losses can only be used to counterbalance gambling winnings during that same tax period. They cannot be carried forward or back to any other tax year.
Dear Mark: I usually play a five or an eight spot ticket when playing video keno. I have hit five spot tickets multiple times, but I have never hit an eight-spot. Does the machine make sure that one or two of my numbers won't come up because the payoffs are so much larger for an eight spot ticket versus a five spot one? Ellen G.
Video keno games, Ellen, are just as random as if you were playing slots or video poker. Like the cards displayed in video poker or symbols of a slot machine, a random number generator (RGN) determines all numbers drawn in video keno.
All 80 numbers on a keno game have the same chance of being drawn. The RNG doesn't know what has happened in the past. It just keeps picking random numbers, and the odds are the same on every play. As for catching a solid 8/8, your chances are 230,114 to one. Those, Ellen, are pretty long odds. Have you ever thought about playing video poker instead?
That said, Ellen, allow me to suggest some advice when playing the cybernetic version. First, search for the highest-paying paytable. The higher the payouts for the spots you play, the lower the house edge. Play fewer spots so that the odds against hitting a winning ticket are not so astronomical. Deliberately play at a leisurely pace, because the slower you play, the less of your hard-earned money finds its way into the casino’s coffers. Finally, use your slot club card to offset the losses YOU WILL experience on this high negative-expectation game.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Vegas looks like somebody took one of Liberace's jackets and made a city out of it.” – Lance Humble, Ph.D., and Carl Cooper, Ph.D, The World's Greatest Blackjack Book (1980)