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Does the house always win when it comes to proposed IRS regulations?

Those who like to try their luck at slot machines, as well as the gaming industry as a whole, received something of an early gift during the holiday season courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service.

That’s because the newly published regulations governing the gaming industry ended up omitting incredibly unpopular proposals relating to both slot jackpot thresholds and electronic player loyalty cards.

To recap, the Treasury Department introduced proposals last year calling for the threshold at which slot machine jackpots had to be reported by casinos to the IRS to be lowered from $1,200 to $600, and for casinos to start using player loyalty card programs to report individual gambling winnings and losses to the agency.  

The gaming industry immediately went on the defensive to these proposals, arguing in relation to lowering the slot jackpot threshold that casinos already forfeit between $300,000 and $600,000 every year (depending on their size) from having to shut down slot machines to record information every time someone hits a $1,200-plus jackpot, and that these losses would be even higher with a lower threshold.

Regarding the use of player loyalty card program information, the industry argued that the underlying software was not designed for this purpose and that it would cost gaming companies too much money to make the necessary adjustments. It also argued that players frequently share or lose their cards, such that the data gathered might not be accurate, and that fewer people would be willing to participate in programs if they knew the IRS was watching.

As mentioned above, these efforts proved successful, as the slot jackpot threshold remains fixed at $1,200 and the integrity of player loyalty card programs remains intact.

While this is indeed good news, it’s important for players to remember that there are still reporting requirements for gambling winnings by which they must abide and that failure to do so can have potentially serious consequences.

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