What if You Win a $60,000 Slot Machine Hand Pay?

My collection of $10,000 bundle bands [Hand Pay]

Introduction to Hand Pay

Are you ready to win a 60-thousand-dollar slot machine jackpot? Are you sure? Here’s what to expect if you win big.

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What It’s Like to Win Big

I’ve won 90 taxable jackpots in nine months in a U.S. state where slot machine jackpots became automatically taxable at $1,200. Of those hand pays, three exceeded $10,000. On average, one in 30 of those 90 jackpots exceeded $10,000.

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These wins exclude the $40,000 cash option I got for winning a car at the end of those nine months. My first big jackpot was for $27,000. So far, this is my largest jackpot won playing slot machines.

I won it early on Saturday, December 21, 2013, at 5:40 a.m. at Horseshoe Cincinnati, since purchased and renamed JACK Cincinnati Casino, then sold again in 2019 to become Hard Rock Cincinnati. I won this $27,000 hand pay on a Red-Blue-White Seven’s slot machine in the high-limit slots room. I’d made the maximum bet on this $10-denomination, 2-credit slot machine.

I was checking to see if I could cycle my bankroll on this slot machine and test to see if it was a winning slot machine. I’d just about decided I was wasting my money because it showed no evidence of bankroll cycling when it hit. I remember the moment clearly. It was very early in the morning.

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I’d started my session at 4 a.m. and had already won a small hand pay. I remember seeing someone win a hand pay behind me but I couldn’t see how much. A floor manager was there with the slot attendant during their hand pay, so it must have been over $10,000.

As the floor manager and slot attendant walked away after the hand pay, they began walking by me. Just as they approached, my $27,000 jackpot hit. I looked down, saw the 2,700-credit hit, looked up at the floor manager looking at me, and swore. That wasn’t very comfortable.

I don’t usually swear. But, at that moment, I felt the need to do so. I swore right while looking the floor manager in the eye.

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He kept walking, now with a frown. I called out to him to explain. “Excuse me! Sorry about that! I didn’t mean to swear, but I just won a jackpot. A really big jackpot!”

They came back. And I went into shock. Since I’d started gambling again after nearly ten years, my biggest jackpot was $5,000.

I’d won it three times over the last month since I’d started gambling again, and every time was hard on me. But now, I’d won more than five times that. It wasn’t easy.

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I remember telling the floor manager how unreal and dreamlike it felt. I even asked the slot attendant to pinch me. She did, but it didn’t help.

And after the hand pay, I had trouble deciding what to do next. Should I just go on with my day? Should I stick to the plan I had in mind?

Or was my plan of gambling all day ruined? Hint: You’re done, so go home!

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Can you imagine how I was feeling? I know some of you can indeed imagine it. I know because some of you have won even bigger jackpots while playing slots.

My collection of $10,000 bundle bands [Hand Pay]My collection of $10,000 bundle bands [Hand Pay]

How to Be Ready, Just in Case

Are you ready to win a big jackpot the next time you play a slot machine? Yes, you’ll need some essentials like your government-issued I.D. But there are other ways you’ll probably want to be ready.

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You’ll need a government-issued I.D. to receive a taxable jackpot at a casino. That’s essential. If you don’t have it with you, friendly casinos will let you go to your car for it.

But I don’t think you should count on the casino letting you go home to get it. If you’re like me, you might feel not quite yourself after winning a big jackpot. To be ready, think it through in advance.

Make yourself a plan. Then, when it happens, all you need to do is remember the plan. It doesn’t have to be a complicated plan.

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Just ask yourself these simple questions. After you get the hand pay, will you stay? Or will you go?

More decisions will be made, but that’s really the most important one. As I’ve told my college students during career discussions, I don’t care what your plan is. I care that you have a plan.

Will you leave the casino or make a night of it? I’d leave. I’d go as soon as I could.

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I didn’t know that before my biggest jackpot, but I do now. That’s my plan. What’s yours?

One single $100 bet won me this $5,000 [Hand Pay]One single $100 bet won me this $5,000 [Hand Pay]

Choices: Handling the Hand Pay

Imagine you’ve just won your biggest jackpot ever. And you have your I.D. You might even have a player’s club card, so your personal information is on file with the casino.

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Next up is the hand pay and more decisions. If you’ve never won a taxable jackpot before, no matter what size, the hand-pay process is straightforward. You win a jackpot.

The machine locks up. A slot attendant comes. You do paperwork.

Someone else shows up to verify the jackpot. Finally, you’re paid. I explain here the hand pay process when winning a W-2G hand pay jackpot playing slots.

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But there are some slight changes to this process when winning big jackpots. In most states, jackpots of $10,000 or more require that the jackpot verifier is a floor manager rather than another slot attendant.

Tip #1: You can tip the slot attendant, and in my opinion should, but you can’t tip the floor manager. If they say it’s okay, the floor manager will take a tip to put into the group tip jar for all the slot attendants. But typically, floor managers can’t receive tips.

Tip #2: This is your chance to meet a floor manager. It’s a priceless opportunity. Get to know them. Make friends if you can because floor managers know more about what’s happening in a casino than slot attendants. Be friendly and ask questions.

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And you have another choice to make. For jackpots just over the taxable limit but under $10,000, casinos will provide banded stacks of $5,000 when you ask for cash instead of a check. And casinos can provide banded stacks of $10,000.

I’m trying to get away from collecting those paper bands around $10k in hundreds, but it’s been a surprisingly difficult habit to break. Either way, for a large jackpot where you ask for cash, you can expect banded stacks (so-called “bricks”) of hundred-dollar bills. I have found it nice when a slot attendant counts out 100-dollar bills in my hand.

But I advise you to take most or all the jackpot as a check. That is if your plan includes requesting some or all your taxable jackpot in cash. It’s your choice, however. 

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What’s your plan again? Remember, preparation is key.

Second of 3 hand pays in 45 minutes [Hand Pay]Second of 3 hand pays in 45 minutes [Hand Pay]

What Comes Afterward

If you do request cash and end up leaving the casino without spending it, what happens at a bank when you go to deposit $10,000 or more in cash? It’s the same as any other cash deposit, except for the Currency Transaction Report (CTR). The CTR is a reporting requirement for U.S. financial institutions regarding all cash deposits, withdrawals, and currency exchanges of $10,000 or more. 

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When making a deposit of at least $10,000, it will be reported to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) within the U.S. Treasury Department. FinCEN began in 1990 but became its bureau under the USA Patriot Act passed in 2002. In part, it monitors and analyzes financial transactions for illegal transactions.

This reporting includes financial crimes related to money laundering and corruption. I’ve repeatedly deposited over $10,000 in cash at my bank and never had a concern. They ask where the money came from, and I typically respond, “I won it at the casino.”

You have no cause for concern, as earning money at a casino isn’t illegal. My lack of concern here hinges on the understanding that big jackpots generate a W-2G tax form when won at a casino. So, if FinCEN does become interested, it wouldn’t take much for the U.S. Treasury to confirm the source of that much cash.

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Nevertheless, you should know about the CTR. There is another aspect to accepting a lot of cash you should probably be aware of. In my mind, it’s slightly more important than the CTR.

It’s this: How much cash can you carry? Let’s say you’re wearing men’s jeans or trousers with typical size pockets, not woman’s jeans with surprisingly small pockets. Let’s further say you’re not wearing a jacket or carrying a purse.

Finally, let’s assume all your cash is in $100 bills. Under those circumstances, how much money can you carry without it being in your hand or sticking out somewhere for anyone to notice? With a wallet in one pocket and a mobile phone in another, I’ve tucked away 200 $100 bills, or $20,000, in all the pockets of a typical pair of men’s jeans.

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Let’s say you won a big jackpot you accepted as cash, and after taxes, have $50,000 in your hand. What do you do with it? Yes, you can fill all your pockets with $20,000.

But what about the remaining $30,000? Do you ask the casino to provide a brown paper bag, perhaps? Once again, make sure you have a plan in case you win.

Here’s a final tip about getting out of the casino and safely home. Feel free to ask the casino for security to walk you to your car. They’re delighted to do so.

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Unlike me, try to remember where you parked your car. It can be surprisingly hard to remember that little fact when you’re clutching tens of thousands of dollars in your sweaty hands. I know.

Sometimes I take a selfie when I win [Hand Pay]Sometimes I take a selfie when I win [Hand Pay]

Preparing for Income Taxes

I was sitting two seats away from someone who looked like they had never been in a casino’s high-limit slots room. Do you know that look? Anyway, they looked both nervous and like they wanted to go.

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Suddenly, and it’s always sudden, they won a $4,800 jackpot. They just nodded to themselves and started hitting the cash-out ticket button, which wasn’t working because the slot machine had locked up after hitting a jackpot over $1,200. When the cash-out button wouldn’t work, they turned and looked at me with a question.

This moment is where I walked right into trouble. I said, “Oh, the machine’s locked up because you’ve won a big jackpot. Don’t worry. The slot attendant should be here any moment to help you with getting it as well as paying taxes.”

I was trying to be helpful. I imagine you know what happened next. They yelled at me, “Taxes? Taxes?!”

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As they became increasingly upset, I tried to disengage from the conversation. Luckily for me, the slot attendant arrived right about then to save me.

Slot attendants are great. Seriously. I always remember how upset this taxable jackpot winner was whenever I work with a slot attendant. I remember it when I tip my slot attendant after winning my many hand pay jackpots.

So, if or when you win an automatically taxable jackpot, you’ll be working with a slot attendant. I’ve already described what that is like. But let’s discuss income taxes for a moment.

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One of my fans recently said on social media, “The amount of the taxable jackpot needs to be raised.”

My response was, “Why? It’s still taxable, even if you don’t get a W-2G hand pay. But I do appreciate the sentiment. I really do.”

You can always choose not to accept a taxable jackpot. You can choose to walk away. An old slots joke is this: “The only way to legally avoid paying taxes after winning a jackpot of $1,200 or more is to simply not accept the winnings.”

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That’s funny, yes? It’s funny but true. Also, be aware the automatically taxable limit for gambling income is instead $600 in Massachusetts, but perhaps eventually in other states. Disclaimer: I am not an income tax professional, so consult one for your personal income tax circumstances.

Finally, there are the tax choices you’ll need to make when filling out the paperwork for the taxable jackpot with the slot attendant.

A federal income tax withdrawal from your winnings is typically optional.
State income tax withdrawal is very state-dependent.
Local income tax withdrawal exists if the casino you are at is located within a city’s limits.
Other withdrawals may exist, such as a nonrefundable 3% tax on jackpots over $1,200 in Mississippi as imposed by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

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If you keep good gambling records, choosing not pay federal taxes usually works out well. Why? Because keeping good gambling records means you’ll have gambling deductions to apply during your annual income tax preparation.

If you don’t keep gambling records or federal gambling deductions aren’t allowed due to your overall income, you’ll need always to include a federal income tax withdrawal with every jackpot or suffer through an income tax payment when you eventually file your annual income tax return. If you don’t keep good gambling records, you should start. Why?

The danger of not keeping gambling records is paying income taxes when they could have avoided them. What if you win big? What if you win so big that everything changes?

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Isn’t that why you’re interested in my content, to succeed? To win more and more often? Keep gambling records just in case you win a massive jackpot.

Or lots of $1,200 hand pays which, in a year, adds up to the same large jackpot or more. Make it part of your plan, okay?

One way to avoid income taxes [Hand Pay]One way to avoid income taxes [Hand Pay]

Summary of Hand Pay

The inspiration for this article came from Richard in Gainesville, Georgia, who’d contacted me on social media after he won a $60,000 slots jackpot, took a check, and immediately walked out of the casino. I was proud of how well he’d handled it.

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How Do Slot Machines Pay Out W-2G Hand Pays?
Keeping Gambling Records for Tax Preparation and More
Your Slots Gambling Records for Income Tax Returns

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Author: Paul Campbell