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I won a $2500 jackpot on a quarter machine in November of 2001. They paid me immediately in cash (didn't offer any alternative but I was too excited to ask).
My winnings were absolutely non-taxable because we were in international waters and they were not reported to the IRS. That's what they told me on the ship and I double-checked with IRS when I got back.
Hopefully, you will indeed have to worry about this!
You are, of course, obligated to report your winnings on your tax return. However, the cruise line is not required to file a form W-2G with the IRS, as would a land-based casino. Cruise ship casinos operating in international waters are entirely unregulated, which is good news if you're a winner.
All gambling winnings are subject to tax. Just because the IRS is not informed it does not mean you should not report it.
Also, if you have cash above $10,000 you are required to report it to customs upon entry. Guessing that customs and the IRS might share information so it would be wise to give Uncle Sam a cut of your earnings. Also wouldn't be surprised if the cruiselines don't give a hint to customs when they have paid out that amount of cash.
Cher - You said you double checked with the IRS and they said it wasn't taxable? As others have said, that was incorrect information. A U.S. citizen is taxable on world wide earnings, and casino winnings anywhere are taxable. Whether you declare it on your tax return is up to you.
Vera Cruz - 6/68
Ecstasy - 10/93
Sensation - 5/94
Tropicale - 11/94
Soverign of the Seas - 5/96
Summit - 9/03
Zenith - 2/04
Constellation - 5/04
Summit - 10/04
Zenith - 1/05
Infinity - 5/05
I would not go around and advertise that you won $2500 but you didn't have to report it. As a former IRS agent I can tell you (as others have here) that those winnings are taxable (whether reported to IRS or not) as all U.S. citizens are taxed on their world-wide income. Gambling winnings are income! Yes, you can net your losses against winnings (but be prepared to back it up should you be audited). Just as a side note: I live in Las Vegas - if you play slot machines - play them for fun and don't expect to win. You have a much better chance of winning by playing blackjack and craps (where each is only tilted slightly in the house favor). Each slot machine can be set to pay off at an X percentage (usually in the low to mid 90s) - so expect to lose up to 10% of whatever you bet (but obviously more if you bet small amounts over short durations of time).
From:Baltimore/Washington, D.C. -- Lived in Bonn; Buenos Aires; Caracas; Almaty; Beijing; Rangoon; Scottsdale and now Las Vegas (and long visits to an additional 83 countries)
A lady that landed a Royal on a $1 machine quickly took her cash & deposited it into the first ATM she saw, which was worth the $3 fee involved. Guess they gave her 40 $100 bills & I know she kept a few for shopping.....
My logo: When we disembark, I just have to book another!