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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Cherry Master Machines, Slot Wins and the IRS, Spin 'Til You Win

9 February 2004

Hi, John:

First, thanks for past helpful hints that have given me nice pots.

Second, if you do have win of $1200 or more, are you then required to report to the IRS? I understand of monies less than $1200, but not quite sure with higher amounts.

Again, thank you.

Marianne

Dear Marianne,

Yes, you must report slot wins of $1200 or more on your income tax form. That's the bad news. The good news is that you can offset your winnings with losses.

The rules and regulations aren't clearly spelled out. I recommend Tax Help for the Frugal Gambler by Marissa Chien and Jean Scott to help you.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello, John,

Are arcade games, "Cherry Master" games, slot machines? The Volusia county sheriff recently raided and closed county's game rooms and closed them down. These machines only paid gift cards.

Donna

Dear Donna,

These are not slot machines in the Las Vegas sense. Vegas-style slots are purely chance machines.

On the Cherry Master machines, the stop button can actually be used to stop a reel on a particular symbol--at least according to players who claim to be able to do it--but the program running the machine will alter the symbol if the machine has paid out too much.

So there are at least two ways in which these machines are not like typical slot machines. First, there might be an element of skill involved, and second, there is a secondary decision that changes the outcome (a practice that is illegal in slot machines).

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

Wonderful column! Very informative. I noticed that in a recent article that you stated that the casinos report slot winnings over $1200.00 to the IRS. I was wondering does that include all slot winnings? By that does it mean that if a person was to win a few bucks here and there on the machine and cashed out for a total greater than the $1200 is that reported?

I understand that every spin outcome is random. My second Question has to do with RNGs. On machines with Spin 'Til You Win features, like IGT's Fourth of July, at what point does the machine know the outcome? Obviously the RNG "picked" the 4th of July as the reel stop to activate the "S.T.Y.W." feature, but has the bonus spin outcome already been determined or is each spin another random stop?

Thanks again for a great column,
Doug K.

Dear Doug,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

The casino reports winnings to the IRS only when the result of one wager is $1200 or more. So, you can run your credit meter up above $1200 and cash out without generating paperwork, as long as the amount you won on each spin or hand was less than $1200.

Each spin during the Spin 'Til You Win feature is a random event and requires getting a new outcome from the RNG.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I just found your column and appreciate all the advice you give. My wife and I moved to Las Vegas about four months ago and are always looking for tips.

In the September 21 column, Marilyn asked if she could get the Price is Right Plinko game on CD. While it's probably not available on CD, I have found it at SkyBetVegas.com, and it is available for free play! I've spent quite a bit of time playing it; a few times I wish I had "real" money in it, most of the time I'm glad it's pretend!

Keep up the great work!

Greg

Thanks for the info.

John


Hi, John!

Love your column and all the info you disseminate.

I have a question about the bonus rounds on the interactive slots, and I'll use Texas Tea for an example. I know that the RNG will determine whether or not the reels stop in the positions necessary to generate the bonus round. Say I get to the bonus round, and select the regions on which to place the derricks. Say I end up with 500 as a total for the regions I selected. Then the rest of the state is uncovered and the amounts I would have won if I'd selected other regions are revealed. My question is this: Does it really matter which regions I select, or has the amount I'm going to win already been determined by the RNG? And I'm asking that question generally as to all of those bonus-round type machines, not specifically Texas Tea.

Thanks,
Candace

Dear Candace,

According to the slot manufacturers, your choices do matter in these types of bonus rounds. The program running the machine uses the RNG to determine how much the different regions (or whatever) are worth. Your bonus reward is determined by which ones you pick.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots