What Happens When You Win a Really Big Sum of Money at a Casino?

Have you ever asked yourself what happens when a big sum of money is won at an online casino? It's not as easy as collecting the money and walking out with it. Keep reading our article to learn more at what happens when a lucky fellow wins a huge sum of money.

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According to our Editorial Guide
This page is written by
Seánie O'Brien
Seánie O'BrienCasino Adviser
Fact checked by
Rebecca Mackay
Rebecca MackayHead of Content

What do people go to the casino and even to an online casino for? Winnings. While a good night out at a casino promises to thrill, adventure, and fun, it also offers something much more tangible in the form of cash. You can win money from the various casino games on offer, from slot machines and jackpot slots to table games of blackjack, baccarat, or poker - granted that the payout amount will vary from game to game. However, one thing that winners forget when they sweep up their gambling winnings is the legal requirements for them as taxpayers. Gambling winnings get taxed in various countries - particularly large sums of money, like $1 million. 

Heavy winnings in millions or thousands aren't all that common. But as a gambler, you should remember that you have to fill out some paperwork with the government for you to be able to keep the winnings legally. So, if you dream of winning big at the casino, read on to learn what you should do in the aftermath. This article will share what happens at first when you win the money. Then, we will get into the technicalities like basic regulations across countries, basic information about filing tax forms, and other questions about legal proceedings. 

Quick Answer

  1. The win will draw a lot of attention to you. 
  2. The casino staff will visit you to check if the game is working correctly. They will also contact the game developer or the software provider to ensure the win is legitimate. 
  3. They will ask for proof of identity - always keep your documents on you at the casino. If you aren't a resident of the country you are playing in, you must fill out a form. 
  4. Tax laws are different in every country. In the UK and Ireland, you don't have to pay tax on winnings, while in the USA, the IRS is entitled to some of your money if the winnings cross €1000. 
  5. You can get paid in a lump sum form or an annuity. The annuity is better from a tax perspective. 
  6. The process of getting paid is long, so be patient.

What Happens First 

You're having a go at the slot machine, and suddenly, everything lines up. You've cranked out a winning combination, and the alarms go off, building excitement and drawing attention to you. Some people might even flock to you to figure out how big of a jackpot you've won. Stay there, as one of the casino managers or staff will be making their way to you. This is because when a machine hits a win, a signal is sent back to the monitoring room, and an attendant must verify the win by doing several checks. They also want to make sure that the machine hasn't malfunctioned. If this happens, you're out of luck and will be compensated by the casino with a prize or other perks. Don't expect something too crazy like a car or a house; it's more likely to be something small like a steak dinner.

Someone from the management will ask to see your ID. Normally, you must show identification to play in the first place, but when you win, they may ask to see it again. This is why it is important to bring some form of identification, like your ID card or driver's licence, to the casino when you want to play. You won't see a cent of your money unless you show a valid ID. This rule also applies to non-resident aliens - they can win jackpots, but they will be taxed differently from US residents. If you do not have any ID on hand, the casino will keep the money safe until you can procure the documents. If you have identification, the casino might just hand over the money to you. Some casinos pride themselves on quick hand pay - giving you money immediately. The casino will get a security team member to take you to your car, but you are on your own after they have done their bit. They prefer to pay cash because that is in the casino's best interest, as it increases the chances that you will continue playing at the casino. However, if you win more than $5000 or €4800, you might receive a check from the casino. 

In some cases, state law can make the process a little complicated. Before the casino gives you anything, they will verify that you're not on the state's exclusion list. If you are, you will not be getting any money because if the casino gives you money, you will get fined. This law is designed to check addicted players and prevent them from relapsing. 

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You will receive the full amount of money because, normally, the state doesn't require the casino to subtract the withholding taxes from the wins, but you can ask the state to do so, and they are more than willing to help. On the other hand, if you win over a million dollars, there are different ways a casino can pay you. You are more likely to get paid in instalments. The casino might offer you various payment options for how you want to receive your money. Most casinos, however, offer a lump sum payment, while others will try to get you on the annual payment option. This might seem like a disadvantage, but staggered payments offer the benefits of fewer taxes. Lump sum payments get taxed as ordinary income. 

This is why gamblers should take a beat before making crucial decisions. We realise that the excitement can cause you to throw caution to the wind, but take your time to decide how you want your payments to be made, because it is an important matter. You do not want to shoot yourself in the foot because you can't see reason and want immediate control over your money. If you choose to claim a lump sum, you will pay a heftier tax bill than compared to staggered, yearly payments. 

With a lump sum, you might be able to address financial emergencies like medical expenses or college tuition, but if you don't have such an emergency, you might end up spending money on things that you don't need. An annuity is a smart choice because you can manage your money much more easily. Structured payments will provide a controlled income stream over a longer time, and you can be smart with it. If you score a big win, do not leave things to chance and contact your accountant or someone trained in tax law before making a decision. Normally, the casino will give you three months to choose an option. 

During this time, the casino will likely make you part of its marketing campaign, plunging you into the centre of attention of the media and the world. For example, you will probably be giving interviews and sharing your experience and story with TV anchors on the news, and you might be invited to casino work events. You might also garner quite a following on social media. You do not have to participate in the campaign, photo ops, or interviews if you don't want to. You might even choose to remain anonymous. Take a beat and figure out what you want, although most winners get swept up in the excitement and are more than happy to share their happiness with the media.


We know paying taxes is a bummer, but if you're a big winner, you must fulfil some legal obligations. If you are in the US, you must fill out a tax form - even in Las Vegas. For winnings over €1000, the IRS will get a cut. You will pay tax on all your winnings, and the casino will give you a w-2g form, a document made for specific gambling winnings. This also applies when you win big at casino sites. 

In some states, you can deduct the money you spent on gambling right away, but the laws get entangled pretty quickly - this is why you need a tax professional. Every player should keep a clear and verifiable record of the money they spent at the casino - keep all the receipts from ATMs or casinos and ensure they are in pristine condition. The receipts should be readable - not crumpled or ink-stained. However, if you aren't in the US, you won't have to pay tax on your winnings. The casino might deduct the money themselves before paying you out. As a non-resident alien, you must fill out a tax form proving that you aren't a US citizen. Then, you will get reimbursed for the money that was deducted. This process takes time. 

If you are in the UK or Ireland, you're lucky; you do not have to pay tax on gambling winnings in land-based or online casinos. The betting duty was abolished in the UK in 2001, so now gamblers can claim their winnings tax-free. A substantial win is eligible for taxes between the 1% and 25% bracket in the U.S., France, or Macau. This means your hot streak in Las Vegas isn't all yours if you beat the odds - you have to pay some money to the IRS or some other government body in the country you are playing.

Waiting for The Payout 

There will always be a waiting period before you can claim your money, whether it's €10 or €1 million. The casino has a protocol to follow in the event someone wins a massive payout. They do this in every case. They need to check if the win is legitimate, inform the top management, complete paperwork and deal with the tax bills. Nothing goes unmissed. After all, they're giving someone a large sum of money out of their account - they must do their due diligence. This process can take some time, and while you are itching to get your hands on the money, you might as well wait. 

The waiting period is also different with some games. With slot machines and jackpot games, the win can be verified within hours. While with progressive jackpots and other machines, the casino has to contact their software providers or the game developer they are working with. There is bound to be some suspense, but the money will be yours if it clears all the checks.

Online Casinos

The case of massive winnings in online casinos is pretty similar, while it is a little more anxiety-inducing because you can't go in to check the progress at a physical location. If you win at a progressive jackpot, the winner will be verified with the software provider. Usually, the game developer or the software developer has the money instead of the casino. 

The online casino will also carry out additional checks requiring you to upload copies of your ID and a utility bill with your name and address. If the casino is satisfied with the information you have provided, you will either be paid by the game developer directly, or the game developer will pay the casino, and then the casino will pay you. The casino method is tricky because casinos have a maximum withdrawal limit per month - it could take you years to be paid in full. However, this issue was raised by gambling authorities when some players complained that they were being paid in small increments when they were owed millions of Euros. So now, in some cases, the jackpot must be paid in full once off, depending on where you are. 

The Aftermath 

If you are cleared and have received your money, you can go back to playing games at the casino. But the casino will keep a close eye on you. The staff and management will intensely monitor you. They will keep track of your comings and goings.


How do land-based casinos verify your identity?

They will ask for your identity card or driver's licence to verify your identity. Sometimes, they might ask for bank statements and a letter from the IRS with your full name and address. 

What happens if the slot machine malfunctions and accidentally give a jackpot?

There is no way out. If the machine malfunctions and gives a jackpot when it shouldn't, you won't get any money - only an apology and some perks.

Casino Mentor

Seánie has plenty of experience in the casino world and enjoys sharing this accumulated knowledge. He offers great tips and tricks for players to enjoy casinos safely.

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8 min read
Fact-checked by: Rebecca Mackay
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