Recently a Minnesota woman who supposedly won over $190,000 from the state’s Mystic Lake Casino while on public assistance was detained for under-reporting income. That arrest followed a long investigation by state and county officials.

According to WCCO TV News, Connie Linh Tran, aged 49, of Anoka County, was accused of illegally obtaining public assistance. Tran supposedly was given over $28,000 in benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) between 2016 and July 2018.

Over the three-year period, Tran’s actual income was higher than the financial guidelines for the benefits. WCCO said that she got $24,914.61 in medical assistance and $3,291 in food support.

As reported by, Tran said she was mostly living from wages earned working at nail salons, unemployment compensation, and money she received from a relative. She claimed to have no gambling earnings.

According to WCCO, she reported a household income of $15,614.80 in 2016, $24,493 in 2017, and $26,176 in 2018. The WCCO report adds however, she also had total checking account deposits of $61,913.82 in 2016, $171,205.76 in 2017, and $85,388 in 2018 through August 23.

WCCO reported that investigators were informed by a compliance official at Prior Lake’s Mystic Lake Casino, which is owned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, that Tran won $190,896.69 between 2017 and May 6, 2018.

The station adds, if Tran is found guilty, she could spend up to 10 years in prison.

Gambling Winnings Needs To Be Reported To Government Agencies

The incident shows how US government programs require applicants and taxpayers to report income earned from winnings at casinos. For example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires a taxpayer to report the total amount of gambling winnings for a specific year on Form 1040 line 21.

Taxpayers may get a Form W-2G. The IRS warns even if they do not receive the form, “Gambling winnings must be considered in determining your filing requirements.”

The IRS also advises that winnings include “money and/or the fair market value of bonds, cars, houses, and other non-cash prizes.” One instance the agency provides is someone who buys a raffle ticket for a dollar and wins a $40,000 boat. “You must include $40,000 in income.”

The winnings which need to be reported do not just come from casinos. The IRS says on its website that winnings from bingo games, various table games, lotteries, raffles, prize contests, tournaments, private party games, scratch-off tickets and similar events also need to be reported.

As for gambling losses, taxpayers need to list deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A to deduct gambling losses. The losses are itemized on the “Other Miscellaneous Deductions” line found on Schedule A.

The IRS further advises that the amount for deductions cannot surpass the winnings amount reported on Form 1040.

Minnesota Tribal Casinos Are Against Sports Betting

Moreover, Charles Vig, the chairman of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, wrote to Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, and all four legislative leaders this year to say that the state’s influential tribal operators not only do not want sports betting in their casinos, they will actively fight any legislative attempt to legalize sports books this year.

However, the sponsor of a proposal, State Senator Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, told Minnesota Public Radio News he will try to legalize sports betting again next year after a bill failed to get approval.

Minnesota’s tribal operators do not pay a portion of their revenues to state coffers, something which has been a matter of argument over the years.

Damaris is a seasoned writer and analyst of the gambling market with several years of experience writing for various blogs and websites worldwide. He has worked with several casino startups and is a supporter of credible casino projects worldwide.
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