As it should be, collecting your winnings from a sports bet is a fairly straightforward process but there are a few things you should know. The standard situation is that once your ticket becomes a winner you bring it to the betting counter, they scan it for you and give you the cash or chips.
Alternatively, you can also apply it towards your next bet instead. If the sportsbook closes before you get a chance to cash it in, you can often bring it to the main cashier and they will do it for you.
The standard rules for cashing in a winning sports betting ticket is that you have 120 days to do it after the event has ended. If that time passes the ticket becomes void. It is important that you are careful with your ticket, as it is the same thing as carrying cash. If you lose it and do not know the transaction number for your bet, there is nothing the sportsbook can do for you. Anyone can find it and collect.
Mailing in Your Sports Betting Ticket
As will be the case with many winning sports tickets, the bettor is a tourist and not in town to collect. If you know you are not going to return to Vegas within 120 days, or you just don’t feel like waiting to go back, you have the option of mailing your ticket to the sportsbook and you will receive a check within a few weeks.
The address of where and who exactly to mail the ticket to is explained clearly on the back of your ticket. You can use regular mail but the tickets say to use registered mail so that your ticket is more easily traced and harder to steal. Registered mail is held under lock and key and takes a long time to deliver as this is does exclusively via ground. Depending on how much the winning ticket is worth may impact if you think paying extra for the registered mail is worth it. However, if you don’t use registered mail and something happens they will tell you you’re out of luck for not following the instructions. Whichever mail you use, it is a good idea to also make a copy of your winning ticket.
Taxes Withheld Upfront
Unlike many other types of gambling, the sportsbook does not hand you a W-2G tax form every time you come through with $600 or more in profit off one bet. It is way too difficult thus time consuming for them to stay on top of how much each person has bet. You can bet $11,000 on a game to win $10,000, succeed, and still be down thousands on the day. How would you feel if you went to collect your $10,000 win on a day you are still losing only to have them hand you a form to fill out for Uncle Sam’s share?
This is the issue for numerous other table games in the casino. If someone brings $5,000 in chips to the cashier they don’t know if you are up or down. If you win money from gambling you are “supposed” to report the earnings to the IRS as taxable income. But seeing as this is all operating on the honor system, the IRS obviously understands there is a ton of unreported income they are not going to know about since everything is settled in cash and the casinos paying out the winnings don’t have any records of who won and lost.
Gambling would certainly be a far less exciting hobby and profitable business if the casinos started breathing down their customer’s neck over every penny of how much they were up or down. It would feel like a hassle if gamblers were required to have a player’s card that they were also required to give to be swiped in every time they start playing a game.
Going through all that red tape would take some of the buzz out of gambling. The thrill of gambling is its impulsiveness. Having the action fly and money passed around with no concerns as to getting into the game, how you will collect, and who is watching. This isn’t to make the argument you shouldn’t have to pay taxes on your winnings, but it’s good that it’s not really enforced in a lot of areas because doing that would take away a lot from what it is.
The standard for something like a lottery or a horse race bet is you must win $600 or more and have that also come from a bet where the odds were at least 300 to 1. There are very few sports bets available that offer odds of 300 to 1. If you did place a $10 bet and 300-1 and nailed it for the $3,000, then you can expect to be given a W-2G form.
What To Do If You Lose Your Ticket
At the time you place the bet, there are some precautionary measures you can take to give you an out in case you do lose the ticket.
If you hand the betting agent your player’s card they can swipe it before you place the bet. The betting information will go on your card as proof you made this bet on this day. If you lose the ticket, you can still cash it in. The only catch is if someone finds your ticket and cashes it in before you could prove it was yours and you lost it with your player’s card, unfortunately you are out of luck.
At the bottom of each ticket are a bunch of numbers. This is the transaction number for your bet. Writing these numbers down serves as a backup if you misplace the ticket. With this information, you can go to the sportsbook and they will hand you a lost ticket form. From there, it would take about 60-90 days to be resolved at which time you would receive a check in the mail. None of this can be done over the phone.