On May 27, the 46th annual World Series of Poker (WSOP), the largest poker tournament in the world, officially got underway in Las Vegas. Over the following eight weeks, poker players from around the world will be vying for the hundreds of millions of dollars up for grabs. It’s important for those visiting the U.S. for the World Series of Poker to remember that their winnings during the tournament are taxable by the IRS and subject to a 30% withholding tax.
The World Series of Poker 2015
By all accounts, this year’s WSOP could top last year’s attendance record. The 2014 WSOP tournaments set an all-time attendance record with more than 82,360 entries and over $227 million in prize money. Last year, the WSOP hosted 50 events with prize pools of at least $1.0 million; two events reached over $10.0 million. There was also a $37.0-million+ and $62-million+ prize pool. All told, the average WSOP gold bracelet event in 2014 had a prize pool of $3,503,275, with $792,504 going to the event’s winner.1
The 2015 WSOP tournament kicked off on May 27 with the first of 68 individual tournaments. Open to gamblers from around the world 21 years of age and up, the 2015 WSOP is made up of 68 events, all offering a chance at a golden bracelet prize, equivalent to a World Series ring.
The 2015 WSOP culminates with the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship, also called “The Main Event,” which begins on Sunday, July 5 and will reach its final table on Tuesday, July 14, at which time play will be halted until November.
While the 46th World Series of Poker still boasts its fair share of big buy-in events, including the $10,000 Main Event World Championship in July and a high-roller event that costs an eye-watering $111,111 to enter, the 2015 tournament is designed to attract more recreational poker players priced out of higher-stakes events.2
For the first time ever, the WSOP is running an event with a $565.00 buy-in for gamblers. “Colossus,” which started on Friday, May 29 and ran to June 3, attracted 22,374 players, making it the largest live poker tournament in history. The tournament also had a prize pool of $11.18 million. American Lance Garcia won the inaugural event, taking home a $638,880 grand prize.3
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino: Home of the 2015 WSOP
Where is the World Series of Poker tournament located? The WSOP is located in the Pavilion, Brasilia and the Amazon Room in the Rio Convention area at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.4
The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, better known as The Rio, is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment Inc. Named after the city of Rio de Janeiro, the 120,000-square-foot casino features more than 1,200 video slots and over 80 of the most popular casino table games, including blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat and pai gow poker.
The Rio Race and Sportsbook offers closed-circuit broadcasts from America’s top racetracks on 60 individual flat-screen TVs. The Sportsbook has six big screens, 12 70-inch TVs, and over 20 32-inch TVs. These allow you to bet on virtually any event, including professional and college football, professional baseball, professional and college basketball, boxing, professional hockey, golf, and auto racing.
The 14-table Poker Room is located next to the Race and Sportsbook and offers 24-hour poker action with cash games of all stakes and a full daily schedule of Las Vegas poker tournaments.
After a day of winning in the casino, you can retreat to one of The Rio’s 2,522 suites or private villas.
World Series of Poker Winning Taxable by IRS
Individuals from all over the world convene on Las Vegas to take part in the World Series of Poker tournament and do some gambling at the casinos as well. What many international visitors and poker players fail to realize is that in the United States, winnings over $1,200, whether from slots, gambling, poker, pari-mutuel, or sports betting, are considered taxable income by the IRS and subject to a 30% withholding tax. This can carve a large chunk out of your winnings. For example, if you had won the $638,880 Colossus grand prize you would have only walked out with a cheque for $447,216. The IRS would keep 30%—in this case, $191,664.
As a result of individual tax treaties, the gambling income won by those living in certain countries is not taxable by the U.S. Some of the countries that have signed a gaming treaty tax exemption are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. All other countries, however, are subject to a 30% withholding tax. The one exception: if you’re from Malta, your gambling winnings are taxed at 10%.
There are a lot of successful, professional poker players out there getting taxed by the IRS. Canadian poker player Daniel Negreanu grew up in Toronto, then moved to Las Vegas as a teenager to try his hand at becoming a professional poker player. In 1998, at just 23, he became the youngest player at the time to win a WSOP bracelet. He has gone on to become poker’s all-time leading money earner with career earnings of just under $30.0 million.5 While he was still a resident of Canada, imagine how much he had to pay in taxes!
So what happens if you take part in the Word Series of Poker or some fun gambling at the Vegas casinos while you’re there for the tournament and win big? Can you get your taxed winnings back?
The Easiest, Fastest Way to Get Your Taxed Winnings Back!
If you’ve won big in Las Vegas and had 30% of your poker winnings held back by the IRS, the experts at Refund Management Services (RMS) can help you reclaim a portion or all of your taxable winnings.
Founded by a Canadian Chartered Accountant in 1998, RMS is the most reliable and experienced gaming and casino tax refund provider for Canadian and non-U.S. residents. Only RMS has the One Simple StepTM process. Our Customer Service Agents take care of the rest, and your refund cheque gets mailed out to you as soon as your refund is approved. We’ve never been refused an eligible refund. Contact us today!
1. “46th Annual World Series of Poker Schedule Unveiled with 68 Events on Tap,” World Series of Poker web site, February 2, 2015; http://www.wsop.com/2015/2015-wsop-schedule-announcement.pdf.
2. Altman, A., “World Series of Poker Gambles on Luring New Players,” Time web site, May 27, 2015; http://time.com/3898458/world-series-of-poker-gambles-on-luring-new-players/.
3. Oresteen, P., “Garcia wins largest live poker tournament in history at WSOP,” ESPN web site, June 5, 2015; http://espn.go.com/blog/poker/post/_/id/2209/garcia-wins-largest-live-poker-tournament-in-history-at-wsop.
4. “Rio Las Vegas Hotel & Casino,” Caesers Entertainment web site; https://www.caesars.com/rio-las-vegas, last accessed June 11, 2015.
5. Paterson, D., “Poker’s $25-million man Daniel Negreanu ready to battle the world’s best this month,” Post City Magazines web site, May 25, 2015; http://www.postcity.com/Eat-Shop-Do/Do/May-2015/Daniel-Negreanu-WSOP/.