Can You Claim Gambling Losses on Your Taxes?
Updated for Tax Year 2020
Gambling losses are indeed tax deductible, but only to the extent of your winnings. Find out more about reporting gambling losses on your tax return.
Gambling losses are indeed tax deductible, but only to the extent of your winnings and requires you to report all the money you win as taxable income on your return. The deduction is only available if you itemize your deductions. If you claim the standard deduction, then you can’t reduce your tax by your gambling losses.
Keeping track of your winnings and losses
The IRS requires you to keep a log of your winnings and losses as a prerequisite to deducting losses from your winnings. This includes:
- horse and dog races
- casino games
- poker games
- and sports betting
Your records must include:
- the date and Free sign up bonus gambling type of gambling you engage in
- the name and address of the places where you gamble
- the people you gambled with
- and the amount you win and lose
Other documentation to prove your losses can include:
- Form W-2G
- Form 5754
- wagering tickets
- canceled checks or credit records
- and receipts from the gambling facility
Limitations on loss deductions
The amount of gambling losses you can deduct can never exceed the winnings you report as income. For example, if you have $5,000 in winnings but $8,000 in losses, your deduction is limited to $5,000. You could not write off the remaining $3,000, or carry it forward to future years.
Reporting gambling losses
To report your gambling losses, you must itemize your income tax deductions on Schedule A. You would typically itemize deductions if your gambling losses plus all other itemized expenses are greater than the standard deduction for your filing status. If you claim the standard deduction,
- You are still obligated to report and pay tax on all winnings you earn during the year.
- You will not be able to deduct any of your losses.
Only gambling losses
You can include in your gambling losses the actual cost of wagers plus other expenses connected to your gambling activity, including travel to and from a casino. Keep in mind that the IRS does not permit you to simply subtract your losses from your winnings and report the difference on your tax return. And if you have a particularly unlucky year, you cannot just deduct your losses without reporting any winnings. If the IRS allowed this, then it’s essentially subsidizing taxpayer gambling.
The bottom line is that losing money at a casino or the race track does not by itself reduce your tax bill. You must first report all your winnings before a loss deduction is available as an itemized deduction. Therefore, at best, deducting your losses allows you to avoid paying tax on your winnings, but nothing more.
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Above, you’ll find a selection of free slots that you’ll likely recognize if you’ve ever been to the Las Vegas Strip.
These are the tried-and-true favorites. From Monopoly to Cleopatra, these are loved at both online and land-based casinos for their exciting gameplay, unique themes, and incredible winning potential.
Playing free slots online is one of the best ways to try out these popular titles and practice your strategy. Many players also enjoy free play to relax and experience casino fun risk-free.
Don’t want to play but want to watch? Read about our favorite Youtube live slots channels.
Where To Play Online Slots?
Free Slot Machines
The fastest and easiest way to play online slots is to find free slot machines. Of course, this page features 10 of the best free online slot machines that you can enjoy right now.
But this isn’t the only site that hosts free slot machines. Thousands of sites host a free version of some of the most popular titles in the world. In fact, if there’s a slot you played at a casino that you’d like to revisit, a simple web search would likely pull up the free version.
You can play free slots via your desktop or mobile browser. These streaming versions of the game require nothing more than a click, and you can start playing. Another option is to play free slots apps, and many exist in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store for Android.
The reason people play free slot machines is for a variety of reasons. The most common is simply for entertainment. Like some would play mobile games like Candy Crush or Words with Friends , fans of slot machines like to play the free versions every now and again.
Another good reason is to practice on the free version and take what you learn to the paid version. The goal is to get more wins or improve your Return to Player (RTP).
Legal Online Casinos
Legal online casinos with paid slots only exist in a few US states:
If you’re not physically located in one of those states, playing real-money online slots is technically breaking the law. At the very least, the online casino operators are violating the law by offering their games to people in the state.
However, the consistent introduction of online gambling legislation in states across the country means that list may grow beyond these five states in the future.
In states where online casinos are legal, you can deposit money, bet on the slots, and withdraw any winnings. Like the brick-and-mortar casinos, the most popular slots at the online casinos have progressive jackpots, which can grow to over a million dollars.
You can also play any of the slots at online casinos for free in “demo mode,” where you’re using practice credits instead of real money. You can often do this before you even create an account.
Sweepstakes Online Casinos – Slots For Cash Prizes
In all of the US except for the State of Washington, you can legally play at sweepstakes casinos, a category of social gaming that also includes online poker and sports picks. This is a great option in states like California, Florida, and Texas, where real money online casinos are prohibited.
The two main sweepstakes casinos are Chumba Casino and LuckyLand. Both offer a large selection of slots that you can play for two different types of currencies: Gold Coins or Sweeps Coins.
Gold Coins are used simply for fun and can’t be redeemed for a cash prize or gift card. However, you can also play in Sweeps Coins. Any Sweeps Coins that you win can be redeemed for cash prizes or gift cards. You just need to have the minimum number of won Sweeps Coins before you can redeem.
To receive Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins, no purchase is required. Once you join, you’re given both types of coins for free to play with. You can also purchase additional Gold Coins. Some Gold Coin packages of include Sweeps Coins.
Check this out to learn more about How To Play Sweepstakes Casinos.
Where To Watch Slots Online
There are some fabulous casino gamers who stream their slots action online for free. This is a great way to learn about slot strategy. Check out our full guide to Live Slots Streaming.
How To Play Slots For Fun Online
Playing free online slots is the same as playing paid online slots, minus the need to deposit any money or even create an account. That’s why playing slots for fun online is free in every US state, including the State of Washington.
You can play any type of slot for free. This includes classic three-reel slots as well as 3D five-reel slots with immersive bonus games and other special features.
The gameplay, including the odds of winning, is the exact same between the free slots and the paid slots. However, if the slot normally has a progressive jackpot, that will be absent from the free version.
Do you need to sign up or deposit to play free online slots?
No. And, in most cases, there’s no way to create an account much less make a deposit.
However, some land-based casino websites, which do offer player accounts, have free online slots on their website. This came into even more prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can you win playing free online slots?
Yes. Just like in the paid version, you can win without limits on the free online slots. But what you win is additional freeplay credits, and refreshing the web browser will reset your bankroll.
How Do Slots Work?
Slots are by far the most popular casino game for a few key reasons:
- Huge winning potential
- The option to play for low or high stakes
- The gameplay is extremely simple
Once you know the basics of slots, you’ll be able to play any type that you’ll come across. While each title can seem wildly different, they all work in fundamentally the same way.
The object of a slot machine is for a winning combination of symbols to appear when the reels stop. This is true whether it’s a three-reel or a five-reel slot.
A winning combination of symbols is based on paylines that run across the reels. A slot can have as few as five paylines or over a hundred.
Usually, the symbol combinations are left to right across the paylines, and each payline can win independently. That means the more paylines you play, the higher your chances of scoring a payout.
In slots, wins are multipliers, not set amounts. So if you’re playing a slot with 25 paylines and your total wager is $5.00, each payline would have a value of $0.20. If one scored a 100x multiplier, you’d win $20.
To play all paylines for the highest possible value, you can select “Max Bet.”
Should You Always Do Max Bet?
No. You should always play with however much you’re able to lose.
However, playing max bet does two things: gives you the best chance of winning the highest possible prizes.
Further, you may need to play Max Bet to qualify for certain prizes, including the progressive jackpot. Check the rules of the specific slot to make sure.
Slot Payback (AKA Return to Player)
A slot’s payback is how much a player can expect to keep of their bankroll based on the average net wins. This is also known as Return to Player (RTP). A high slot payback is 90% or higher, and a low slot payback is 70%.
No slot has an average lifetime payback that’s equal to or greater than 100%. However, some players seek out the games with the highest RTP to ensure the highest chances of regular wins. Others prefer the longshot slots, which have the lowest RTP but normally the highest potential prizes.
A slot’s biggest selling point aside from the jackpot, RTP, and overall theme are the bonus features. These are usually triggered when three or more “scatter” symbols appear on the reels. You then have the opportunity to win more money, either through free spins, a minigame, or selecting a hidden prize.
The Wild symbol usually best matches the theme of the game. For example, Cleopatra is the Wild symbol in the Cleopatra slot.
Wild symbols can take the place of any other symbol aside from the scatter (and possibly other specialty symbols) to create winning combinations. Five wild symbols will often trigger the top prize fixed jackpot.
Progressive Jackpot Slots
When a slot has a progressive jackpot, it means a portion of every bet placed by everyone playing the slot contributes to a running total. The total progressive jackpot continues to increase as people play until it’s won by a lucky player, then it’s reset and starts again.
How to win a progressive jackpot depends on the slot. In some cases, it’s simply randomly awarded at the end of a spin, and you may need to “Bet Max” to qualify. Others will involve a bonus game.
Different Types Of Slot Machines
Because slots are always innovating, it’s difficult to create a list of the different types. Instead, let’s look at the key factors that separate one slot from another.
Number Of Reels
Three-reel slots are usually the simplest, where one payline runs across a maximum of three symbols.
Five-reel slots are the most common and can range from a handful of paylines to 743 All-Ways-Pays slots, which covers every possible combination of symbols going up and down and left to right across the reels.
Four-reel, six-reel, seven-reel, and other slots are pretty much nonexistent in physical casinos but you can find some online relatively easily.
Video Vs. 3D Slots
Video slots are the most common form of five-reel slots and often feature bonus and free spin features. 3D slots are the same, except they use 3D animation and graphics whereas video slots use 2D.
Penny slots earned their name by allowing players to bet with just $0.01. But some slots can cost a minimum of $1.00 per spin, and betting the max can make your overall wager climb to as high as $125 or more.
When a slot is labeled low volatility, it means it pays out low wins regularly. When it’s labeled high volatility, it means you’ll often go for several spins without winning, but the winning streaks are often larger when they do come.
Coin Play Vs. Paylines
Coin play means you’re simply setting the coin value that applies to the multiplier wins. Some variations, called Buy-Your-Pay Slots, won’t allow you to win certain amounts or activate certain features unless you increase your coin value.
Paylines are either fixed or variable. For both, you set the value of each individual payline, and multiplier wins apply to that payline. But with variable paylines, you can set the number of lines you want to play as well as their value. With fixed paylines, you automatically play all of them.
How To Play Slot Machines
The most common place to play slots is at a land-based casino. In most states, casinos are either commercially operated or tribal-owned and located on Native American lands.
The ten states that do not have any land-based casinos are:
- South Carolina
The highest concentration of casinos and slot machines in the United States can be found in Las Vegas, Nevada. And not only that, it’s also where you can find the largest jackpots of all time. In fact, the top six biggest casino wins ever were all on Vegas slots.
Another major hotspot is Atlantic City, New Jersey, where several casinos operate in close proximity. But if you live in the continental United States, there’s a good chance that there’s a casino with over a hundred slot machines within driving distance.
Why are slots the most popular game at the casino?
Slots can make up 75% or more of a casino’s total gambling revenue. That means the rest comes from all table games and poker tables combined. Why? Because slots are fun, attractive, and can turn relatively low wagers into multi-million-dollar payouts.
The Most Popular Slots Offer The Highest Payouts
It should come as no surprise that the easiest way to get people to play a slot is by offering an enormous potential jackpot.
Enter the slots area of a Las Vegas casino, and you’ll find dozens of options with a top prize that can be well into the millions. All it takes is one single spin to win it all. That’s hard to resist.
So it’s no wonder that the progressive jackpots are the most popular. The most talked-about usually is.
Free Online Slots FAQ
Yes. No matter where you’re located in the US, it is completely legal to play free slots online.
Because you’re playing with demo credits rather than real money, it’s not considered gambling. And if you download a free slots mobile app, you don’t even need an internet connection to play.
Yes, you can win real money playing slots online. However, you’ll need to be in one of the three states (DE, NJ, and PA) where it’s legal to win money legally. Michigan and West Virginia will soon offer legal online gambling as well.
To win cash prizes, anyone located in the US (except for the State of Washington) can legally play at sweepstakes casinos, which have a wide range of online slot machines.
You can also play free slots using demo credits that cannot be redeemed for prizes right here at bonus.com and elsewhere.
No. You do not need to create an account to play free slot games online. Even if you’re playing in demo mode at an online casino, you can often simply go to the site and select “play for fun.” Only online casinos and sweepstakes casinos require signup to play.
No. You do not need to download anything to play free online slots. The titles are instantly available directly through your web browser. However, there are a number of free slots on your phone whether on your Android or iOS device.
Yes. Most of the popular Las Vegas slots are available to play for free online. That’s because a lot of the gaming software developers provide their titles to both brick-and-mortar casinos as well as online casinos. Plus, the demand for the most popular options make them particularly readily available.
Yes. Because you do not have to create an account, you’re not providing any of your personal information. Unsafe slots are those run by illegal online casinos that take your payment information. Free slots are always completely safe simply because they don’t accept real money.
The benefits of playing free slots include:
- The ability to play simply for the fun of it.
- Testing a game to see if you like it.
- Practicing strategy before risking real money.
- Placing huge bets that you otherwise wouldn’t want to do.