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27 May 2015
By John Robison, Slot Expert™
Considering that one of the justifications offered for lowering the threshold to $600 is that it brings the threshold for slots in line with the threshold for other gambling activities, raising the other threshold on the other activities is certainly a valid alternative. Unfortunately, lowering the threshold is really just a way to raise taxes without actually raising taxes. It is regressive because the increase does not fall on those most able to afford it. Worse, increasing the figure included in the AGI may diminish or eliminate some benefits for the taxpayer under the assumption that the taxpayer had more income when in reality the taxpayer lost money gambling.
I did a little searching and checked the instructions on the IRS website and couldn't find anything saying that players could have taxes withheld from their winnings even when it was not required. Much about when regular and backup withholding are required, but nothing about optional withholding. In any case, the casino has to be prepared to withhold 28% for backup withholding, so I assume players could request that today even if they provided a valid taxpayer identification number.
By the way, I'm simplifying the situation by saying that there are only two thresholds. I've just picked the thresholds for the two activities I think my readers are most likely to participate in -- slots and lotteries. There are other thresholds for racing and jai alai and there is much that could be done to simplify the thresholds.
I'm sorry to hear of your problems. I've never had a problem with a ticket redemption machine and it should be just as reliable -- and as thoroughly tested -- as an ATM.
I'm not surprised that the casino personnel wouldn't pay you for the ticket because the machine's log indicated it had paid the ticket. Moreover, they probably couldn't pay you. They most likely do not have access to the cash/coin store in the machine.
It sounds like you filed the dispute form and the casino said that the machine balanced out after it investigated. I don't see how that is possible. Even if there were some way for the bills or coins to get diverted in the machine and dispense into the belly of the machine and never make it outside to the trays, I would think that you would get at least the bills or the coins.
What are the cameras for? Their purpose is to protect the casino's bankroll by ensuring that the games are run correctly and no one is trying to cheat them. That said, in the old days, casinos used to have fixed cameras trained on the cash transaction areas -- the cage and the coin redemption booths. The ticket redemption kiosks are more mobile -- all they need is power and network communications -- so there may not be a fixed camera over each one of them. In fact, the casino floor at the Westgate in Las Vegas is currently undergoing extensive renovations, and the kiosks are moved quite frequently.
Your next step in trying to recover your money is to file a dispute with the Washington State Gambling Commission. Its address is Box 42400, Olympia, WA 98504.
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at email@example.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
20 May 2015A few weeks ago I reported that the IRS is considering lowering the W-2G threshold on slot winnings from $1200 to $600. The IRS has a legitimate rationale for lowering the threshold -- $600 is the threshold for sweepstakes and lotteries. Bringing the two tresholds in line eliminates some confusion. ... (read more)
13 May 2015I have terrible luck at slot machines. I can honestly say that I haven't won in a long time. A friend told me that I don't sit at a machine long enough. You have to sit there and play and play. If I put $20 in a machine and haven't really won anything, should I find another machine? How do you know ... (read more)
6 May 2015I understand that some slots work as if they are lottery scratch-off tickets. Does that mean a limited number of winning tickets? It seems to me you can play for a top prize that has been awarded and never know it had already been claimed. I think this is unfair to the player, who is thinking that a max bet will achieve a jackpot but that jackpot has already been paid. ... (read more)