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Establishing professional gambler status for tax purposes

Posted by James Kridel | Apr 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

For tax purposes, it is important for those who engage in frequent gambling to be able to distinguish between a professional gambler and a casual gambler.

What is the difference in tax treatment between a professional gambler and a casual gambler?

Professional gamblers can take advantage of certain tax benefits that are not available to casual gamblers and have the option of deducting their business expenses in some circumstances. Casual gamblers, on the other hand, are at a tax disadvantage since they are required to report their gambling winnings as income but cannot deduct their gambling losses to the extent of the winnings.

If you gamble frequently and have questions or concerns about how your gambling status may affect your tax liability and benefits, one of our experienced tax attorneys at the Kridel Law Group can help.

Factors used in determining professional gambler status

There are several factors that the Courts have developed to identify and distinguish whether a person is considered a professional gambler or a casual gambler. One of the most hotly debated factors in previous cases has been the issue of “profit motive,” or whether the gambler intended to make a profit. The non-exclusive list of factors include:

  • Whether the taxpayer conducted the gambling in a businesslike manner, including keeping books and records to track income and expenses;
  • The level of expertise the taxpayer has developed over time, and whether he or she consults experts or attends educational courses about gambling;
  • The time and effort expended by the taxpayer in carrying on gambling activities;
  • The expectation that assets used in the activity may increase in value (usually not applicable to gambling activities, since cash is usually the asset involved in gambling);
  • The taxpayer's time, attention, and success devoted to other activities not related to gambling;
  • The taxpayer's history of income or losses with respect to his or her gambling activities;
  • The amount of occasional profits from the taxpayer's gambling activities;
  • The financial status of the taxpayer, including whether he or she makes a living through other endeavors; and,
  • Whether elements of personal pleasure or recreation are present.

Consult an experienced tax attorney in New Jersey and New York

New Jersey is home to many popular gambling attractions and, of course, Atlantic City. Our tax attorneys in New Jersey and New York have had extensive success in helping many clients establish their status as a professional gambler. Contact us today at (973) 470-0800 or [email protected] to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

About the Author

James Kridel

James A. Kridel, Jr. brings a wealth of business, legal, military and life experiences to his law practice. For four years Mr. Kridel served as a special agent for the United States in the field of Counterintelligence, which resulted from his voluntary service with the United States Army during Vietnam. Before starting his own law firm, he was the tax partner at a previous firm.


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