Including Charitable Donations in Your Winnings

photographed lottery purchase forms from local store.

Although it’s statistically unlikely that someone will win every time they gamble, some do win — and win big. Many people give part of their proceeds to charity. This not only lets the money be used for something good, but it can also reduce the taxes you pay on your winnings.

Buddhist Gives $600,000 Winnings Away

A Buddhist gambler who regularly gives his winnings to charity says he will give away $600,000 of his most recent poker winnings.

Scott Wellenbach, a 67-year-old from Nova Scotia, placed third in the Bahamas and netted than nine times more than a previous total. The Canadian said donating his winnings was his rationale to gambling in the first place. He was happy to do something for others and have fun doing it.

Working from Sanskrit and Tibetan texts, Wellenbach translates Buddhist teachings in Halifax — when he’s not at a poker table. He previously won $72,176 in 2017, which went to various charities, including Oxfam, nuns in Nepal and Tibet and Doctors Without Borders.

$17 Million Online Winner to Pay Father’s Health Costs

An Afghanistan veteran planned to use most of his winning to help his ailing father. Jon Heywood’s father needed a heart and lung transplant in 2015. He saw an ad for online gambling and registered for an account. He later became an instant millionaire when one of his bets won him about $17 million. The Guinness Book of World Records listed it as the highest online gambling payment to date.

Deducting Charitable Contributions

Charitable donations are tax-exempt up to certain limitations. The rules can get complicated, so it’s a good idea to speak to a lawyer before you write out a check to your favorite cause.

The IRS taxes most prizes and awards, such as online winnings and lottery payouts. Even if the winner wants to give all their money to charity, they may have a large tax to pay at the end of the year. Charitable tax deductions are limited to 50% or less of your gross income, so that’s another consideration to keep in mind when you consult an attorney.

Whatever individuals players decide to do with their earnings, online gambling lets them place bets on football and other sports as well as traditional gambling games. This provides a uniquely exciting way to put money aside for worthy causes when they win small or large pots.