Politics is a gamble. And during every election process, a lot of folks try to hedge their bets.
That's especially true when it comes to the contest with the highest stakes: the U.S. presidency.
So it's really no surprise that a group which literally depends on gambling is trying to shuffle (or stack, depending upon your point of view) the political deck.
According to CQ Politics, the Poker Players Alliance wants a new deal from the Republican Party.
The last two Republican platforms included the following language: "Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support legislation prohibiting gambling over the Internet or in student athletics by student athletes who are participating in competitive sports."
Members of the poker players lobbying group have met with GOP convention staff and folks in John McCain’s campaign in an effort to have that section removed from the 2008 platform, reports CQ Politics.
The gambling group also reportedly is holding out hope that it might get the GOP to officially support online wagering, but that's probably a very long shot.
The Poker Players Alliance spent
That lobbying money doesn't look so big when you consider, according to the Alliance, that Internet gambling is an estimated
So what does the group hope its political efforts will win them? Regulation vs. criminalization of online gambling here in the United States. American gamblers now play through offshore Web sites, although that's technically against federal law (as noted in this previous blog post).
"My point is simple. Is the Republican Party no longer the party of personal freedom and individual responsibility?" wrote Greg Raymer, a professional player who won the 2004 World Series of Poker. "Why has this party, that used to protect my rights, now become the party that wants to create a nanny-state?"
A handful of bills have been introduced in the House to accomplish what the Poker Players Alliance and other gambling groups want. All are sponsored by Democrats.
And while nobody's folded yet, time is running out in this Congressional session to play out the legislative hand.
Deal in the IRS: The IRS is not in the business of policing gambling laws. It's in the business of taking a cut of your earnings, regardless of where they come from, be it legal or illegal activities.
Gambling winnings are taxable federal (and in most cases, state) income. So before you spend all the money you won in Las Vegas, Atlantic City or at other unauthorized venues, take some time to set up a tax payment plan so that you don't end up with a big tax bill next filing season.
Casinos and other legal operations will in many cases send you a Form W-2G that details your good fortune. Such reporting requirements were expanded to poker tournament winners just this spring, as blogged about here.
And remember: Uncle Sam gets a copy of your W-2G.
Before that form arrives, consider making estimated tax payments to report your unexpected income and pay the taxes on it in a timely fashion.
You also should have a tracking system for you losses as well as your winnings. You can use bad hands at the poker table, poor pulls at the slots or worthless nags at the track to offset your big winnings and lower your tax bill a bit.
This story has a bit more on the ins and outs of reporting your gambling winnings to the IRS.
What are the odds? Not that I'm condoning gambling or advocating you bet on anything, but it is interesting to look at -- for entertainment purposes only, of course -- what betting professionals have to say about America's great game of politics.
Betgenius, based in the United Kingdom where betting on everything is just fine with that government, keeps tabs on the campaigns here in the former colonies. At its BestBetting.com site you can see all odds, best odds and historic odds in the Barack Obama-John McCain matchup.
The site also gives Sen. Joseph Biden the edge to become Obama's VP. I guess we will soon see how good these guys are at picking political races instead of the other, more athletic kinds.