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New tax angles for gamblers | Reuters

“Maybe five years from now, you’re going to see a number of new games online; many of them have yet to be invented,” said Michael Pollock, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, a research and consulting firm.

– Of course, there’s a catch. The Justice Department cleared the way for states to start legalizing online poker and other online betting games. And only the pros can take tax losses for their expenses.

Here’s what you need to know if you enjoy the games of chance and want to save money on your taxes.

– Some states are better than others. That enables them to reduce that taxable income by the amount they bet or spent on participating (as long as they don’t create a loss.) But proving you are a professional fantasy sports player? “I seriously doubt it,” says Fox. And whether they are businesses is a whole other question that doesn’t seem to have been tested. and I could add many more ‘verys’… If you really enjoy gambling and have other income coming in, and don’t keep good records, you’re probably just going to be considered a recreational gambler, even if you recreate a lot, says Fox.

Does that mean you can now write off all those Knicks games and bar nights you and your fantasy league buddies attend? What about the Vegas sprees that support your habit? Sorry, not so much.

– The fantasy leagues are still operating in the grey. As recently as July of this year, the U.S. The IRS has a checklist of behaviors that it looks at to decide if something’s a business, and having fun is on it. Here’s how: You’re allowed to take as much in gambling losses (the actual amount you bet and lose) as you won. unfair toward gambling,” says Russell Fox, a Las Vegas tax expert who prepares the returns of poker aficionados, horse bettors, slots players and more. Fox is an enrolled agent — a special class of tax preparer that qualifies him to represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service.

But whether the people who spend money on those ‘opportunities’ can actually cash in on the tax breaks that might be associated with them is another question.. “Gambling winnings are always taxable income,” the IRS notes. If you are deemed a professional gambler, you can deduct more than you make, producing losses that can reduce your tax bill significantly. But Florida has outlawed fantasy leagues. And they appear in different places on your tax return, so anyone who doesn’t itemize their deductions will lose out. You still have to take the income as taxable, but you’ll lose the deductions.

WASHINGTON In the waning days of 2011, the federal government has handed gamblers two gifts. That includes the $250 you get if you call the final four right in your office NCAA pool, and the amount you win when the players in your fantasy football team have a good week.

– Hobbyist gamblers don’t get the same breaks. If you win a bunch of money, but aren’t a pro, you can only deduct your losses up to the amount that they zero out your winnings. But the tax court agreed with the IRS’s claim that he wasn’t really running a gambling business, largely because he had a day job as an X-ray technician that supported him, and because he wasn’t running his gambling business in a businesslike manner. At least you’ll cut down on travel expenses.

– You can win, but you can’t hide. “You have to prove it’s your livelihood, and that’s hard to see.”

– Pros get big write-offs. Some states disallow gambling losses, or subject them to their state’s alternative minimum tax rules. The good news for people who field their own fantasy football, basketball or baseball teams is this: It’s usually legal to do so. Of course Nevada’s kind to those who play (or work) at gambling, so living in Las Vegas instead of traveling there may always be an option. The bar is higher for a professional gambler than it is for a professional painter, babysitter, dogwalker or eBay merchant, Fox suggests. Then you can also deduct your expenses, such as travel costs, tournament fees and the like. Linda Stern can be reached at linda.stern@thomsonreuters.com; Editing by Gunna Dickson.; Linda Stern tweets at www.twitter.com/lindastern.; Read more of her work at blogs.reuters.com/linda-stern)

Fox and other analysts do believe that the administration’s new position will eventually lead to many more legal games and gambling opportunities. It’s very hard to prove that your gambling activity is a business. Some fantasy players are getting 1099 forms listing their winnings. tax court disallowed the claim of a taxpayer who spent much of his spare time playing the slots, winning $25,534 in the process.

The main limitation, from Fox’s point of view, is that the IRS distinguishes between recreational and professional gamblers — and only pros can take lucrative tax losses for their expenses. According to Fox, if you’ve got gambling income and losses, you probably don’t want to be from Hawaii, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, or a handful of other states, because they have various rules which either disallow gambling deductions or subject them to alternative minimum taxes, or add extra taxes onto gambling businesses. He claimed betting losses of that amount plus expenses of $15,455. And the Internal Revenue Service agreed to a tax court decision that will allow professional gamblers to take big tax losses.

(The Personal Finance column appears weekly, and at additional times as warranted. The law, which regulates online gambling — the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 — specifically carves out fantasy leagues as a protected activity. If that results in a gambling business income that is a negative number, you can use that negative number to reduce any other taxable income you may have.

By Linda Stern

| WASHINGTON

“The tax code is very very very..

Online Gambling: A Growing Addiction

I got to get myself out of it.

. The sharing of experiences with friends, family, like I’ve never seen before. Drawn in by the popularity of poker, half of all men in college are gambling on an monthly basis — even though betting on sports is illegal everywhere in the U.S. He credits a 12-step program to helping him overcome his problem, and he has not gambled in almost four years.

“I’ve heard other people compare it to a cocaine addiction, the high you get from that, and that’s the euphoria I felt,” he said. Desperate, he began stealing from his clients. And when they caught on, he left his family and fled.

“Life is great,” Erickson said. I got myself into this.

If you or your loved ones has a gambling problem, help can be found at the National Council on Problem Gambling.

The problem is affecting younger people as well. “It’s American, like apple pie. He served a year in prison and now works for a compulsive gambling helpline. The college bowl games this weekend lead to the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. He considered going to Mexico and if he couldn’t kill himself there, he’d pay someone else to do it, he said.

Nevertheless, the industry rakes in mind-boggling amounts of cash. As gambling on the Internet becomes more popular and more sites crop up, those numbers are expected to increase.

It is now high season for sports betting. People love to bet on it. Then, it’s March Madness, where many participate in an office betting pool.

“I became this person I didn’t know,” he said. “It becomes an all-consuming activity. That will always be there. By some estimates, $7 billion is wagered on the Super Bowl alone in casinos, online and with bookies.

Three and a half years ago, Erickson accrued $400,000 in gambling debts. There are an estimated 6 million people who deal with the problem in the United States. “The miracles I’ve experienced. “But I thought this must be what I have to do. These are things that I avoided my whole life, not choosing to be a part of, but today I cherish them.”

“I think it’s a devastating illness, it’s an illness that if it’s not treated, it will end up that the person’s whole lifestyle will be affected,” said Ed Looney, executive director of Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.

After 23 days on the run, Erickson turned himself in. The lining up the money, the handicapping of the game, the betting of the game, the watching of the game. People love to bet on their football games.”

But soon, it spiraled out of control.

The situation became so dire, that Erickson contemplated killing himself. Win or lose, it didn’t matter to me, it just set me up to bet again.”

‘A Devastating Illness’

Erickson is a compulsive gambler, a condition just as dangerous and debilitating as drug or alcohol addiction. except Nevada.

Mark Erickson always craved a piece of the action — so the accountant from Phoenix started betting on sports over the Internet.

“Sports betting is the rock of Gibraltar,” Looney said

Online Gambling: A Growing Addiction

These are things that I avoided my whole life, not choosing to be a part of, but today I cherish them.”

Nevertheless, the industry rakes in mind-boggling amounts of cash. Drawn in by the popularity of poker, half of all men in college are gambling on an monthly basis — even though betting on sports is illegal everywhere in the U.S. People love to bet on their football games.”

But soon, it spiraled out of control.

It is now high season for sports betting. That will always be there. “The miracles I’ve experienced. “It becomes an all-consuming activity.

Three and a half years ago, Erickson accrued $400,000 in gambling debts. Then, it’s March Madness, where many participate in an office betting pool.

If you or your loved ones has a gambling problem, help can be found at the National Council on Problem Gambling.

“I became this person I didn’t know,” he said. The college bowl games this weekend lead to the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. “It’s American, like apple pie. The sharing of experiences with friends, family, like I’ve never seen before. I got to get myself out of it.

After 23 days on the run, Erickson turned himself in. except Nevada.

“I think it’s a devastating illness, it’s an illness that if it’s not treated, it will end up that the person’s whole lifestyle will be affected,” said Ed Looney, executive director of Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.

“I’ve heard other people compare it to a cocaine addiction, the high you get from that, and that’s the euphoria I felt,” he said. He served a year in prison and now works for a compulsive gambling helpline. I got myself into this. “But I thought this must be what I have to do. He credits a 12-step program to helping him overcome his problem, and he has not gambled in almost four years.

The situation became so dire, that Erickson contemplated killing himself. And when they caught on, he left his family and fled.

Mark Erickson always craved a piece of the action — so the accountant from Phoenix started betting on sports over the Internet.

The problem is affecting younger people as well. Win or lose, it didn’t matter to me, it just set me up to bet again.”

“Life is great,” Erickson said. As gambling on the Internet becomes more popular and more sites crop up, those numbers are expected to increase.

“Sports betting is the rock of Gibraltar,” Looney said. By some estimates, $7 billion is wagered on the Super Bowl alone in casinos, online and with bookies.

‘A Devastating Illness’

Erickson is a compulsive gambler, a condition just as dangerous and debilitating as drug or alcohol addiction. Desperate, he began stealing from his clients. There are an estimated 6 million people who deal with the problem in the United States. The lining up the money, the handicapping of the game, the betting of the game, the watching of the game. People love to bet on it. He considered going to Mexico and if he couldn’t kill himself there, he’d pay someone else to do it, he said.

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