What Happens After You Win The Jackpot in a Casino?

The gasps of astonishment from other players at the card table, the sound of chips sliding across the green baize toward you, the thundering of money from the slot machine. Winning big in a casino is a dream for many people, and the promise of life-changing amounts of cash won in a matter of moments is one reason that people come back to play, time and again. But aside that moment of jubilation, you probably haven’t imagined what hitting the jackpot in a casino actually means. There is a rollercoaster of emotions, a whole lot of red tape, and – annoyingly – a load of tax to pay, all before you can enjoy your winnings. Let’s see how things unfold when you win a big jackpot. 

Your Winnings

When you strike it big a casino employee will descend on you before you know it. Casinos monitor card tables closely and have electronic means on slot machines to tell when a customer has won a large sum. Another thing about slots – they usually have a disclaimer on them that winnings cannot be paid if the machine malfunctions, so this will be the first thing they check. This can be brutal – a woman who thought she had won $43 million had her payout reduced to less than three bucks. And don’t be surprised if the employee offers you cash immediately – they like to publicly hand out bills to encourage other punters to play. If you’re lucky enough to have a huge win, the chances are you’ll need a bank transfer, check or wire to get your money. Many casinos won’t pay the full amount upfront, but prefer to stagger payments – this may be beneficial, giving you a regular income rather than encouraging you to splash the cash. 

Different Types Of Jackpot

Of course, winning big is relative to how much money you earn outside the casino walls, how much you’ve wagered so far, and your general expectations. Some casinos feature hourly jackpots with smaller totals, whereas games such as roulette have progressive jackpots, which can be enormous. These accumulate every time the roulette wheel spins, only resetting when someone wins. 

The Taxman

Before you start celebrating, some bad news. Your winnings are not tax-free. One of the first things that will happen when you hit the jackpot is that you’ll have to fill out a form. The casino is obligated to report its payouts to the IRS (if you’re in the USA) or other relevant authorities. You’ll be required to provide your tax ID number, and usually, the casino will withhold a percentage to cover both federal and state taxes (again, this is for the USA, so check what the procedure is in your area/state/territory). If for some reason the casino doesn’t adjust for taxation, DO NOT assume you’re not liable. A good rule of thumb is to set aside one-third of your winnings in order to cover the inevitable tax bill – if you spend it you will go from hero to less than zero before you know it. 

How The Casino Treats Winners

You may be invited in for a drink by the owner, who will congratulate you, and probably offer some perks to get you to play more. Casinos hate losing money, so they want you to accept chips or hard cash to entice you into further gambling. So don’t be alarmed if you detect gritted teeth behind that smile as you shake hands. While they hate you for clearing up, casinos often want to display their winners prominently – it is excellent PR for them to show that people can and do win in their casino, and they need to make the most of it. If you are receiving payments in instalments, they often ask you to hold up a giant check every couple of months. Of course, you are under no obligation to play this game, but many jackpot winners get swept up in the excitement and agree to participate.

After The Elation

The moment of victory, whether it is when the symbols align on the slot machine or when the winning hand is revealed, is extremely overwhelming but – apparently – rather short-lived. Your pure joy will be tempered by those around you – remember, it is their money as well as the casino’s you have won, so while they might be excited to see a winner, they will also be envious. The procedural rigmarole you have to go through is also a bit anticlimactic. Worse than that, you’ve been the centre of attention, not for your good looks or talent, but for your sudden wealth. This can be a bit unsettling, especially if you parked your car a block away, as was the case earlier this year. Many casinos offer security escorts for winners to get to their vehicles, but then, you’re on your own. For that reason, it is always better to go for a bank transfer rather than cash. 

Despite all these hassles, taxes, and procedures winners must go through, hitting the jackpot is the dream for any casino gambler (or non-gambler, for that matter)- you’ll forget about them all soon enough, and enjoy your riches.

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