Money Management

Here's an unhappy situation -- being flat broke on the second day of a five day gambling vacation.

To avoid this, you need to set a gambling budget and stick to it.  Some say "Never bet more than you can safely afford to lose."  But I believe that's a dangerous way to think about it.  I prefer to say "Never bet more than you planned to bet".

Here's the difference.  You may be well off, and you could afford to wager a few thousand dollars tonight.  If you lost it, it would have zero effect on your life or your future.  But you only planned to play with $400, and that's what you brought to the casino with you.  If you lose that $400, don't go to the ATM.  That's the first step down a slippery slope.

Here are a few terms to help keep things straight:

Here's what we do:


If you gamble long enough, eventually you'll hit a jackpot that requires the casino to pay you by hand, in cash, and to give you a W2-g.  Now you have the privilege of paying taxes on your winnings.

Any time you hit a jackpot larger than $1199 the casino will give you a W2-g.  Some machines are set up to pay exactly $1199 for this reason!

But, you say that you've lost more than you won this year? If so, you may not have to pay any taxes on this jackpot.

A few things to do in advance of this occurring.

Problem Gambling

If you have difficulty sticking to a budget, and often exceed your planned gambling loss limits, you may have the beginnings of a gambling problem.  Please keep gambling fun for you and your family.  Take a look at these sites:

National Council on Problem Gambling:

Gamblers Anonymous:

Harvard Medical School self help: