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Survivor pool betting

It's Sunday afternoon in America, meaning millions (still) are watching National Football League games

Millions more also are betting on them. Unless, that is, they were participants in Ron & Mike's Football Pool.

It's one of the largest football survivor pools in the country and it was shut down last week after federal agents seized documentation and the money the pool organizers collected, according to an article by Darren Rovell, senior writer for ESPN.

In case you're not a gambler, survivor pools require a bettor to pick one team that is going to win each week of the football season without using the same team twice. Once a team that is picked loses, that person is eliminated.

All the Ron & Mike's pools combined had more than 23,000 entries, reports Rovell, with a collective value that surpassed $2.5 million.

You guessed it. I'm going with $2.5 million as this week's By the Numbers figure.

Biggest busted betting pool to date: The Ron & Mike's shutdown is the biggest pool bust since 2010, writes Rovell. That year, prosecutors in New Jersey arrested John Bovery, a Garden State schoolteacher, for running a $100-per-entry survivor pool that had roughly 8,000 entries and charged him with promoting gambling and money laundering.

In this latest case, pool organizers Ron Kronengold and Mike Bernstein had been running the operation for at least the past eight years.

If the men merely ran the pools and took no share of the winnings, it would not be illegal, per New York state law, write Rovell. However, he notes that if they did receive a cut of the winnings, which is usually 10 percent, they could be charged with bookmaking and profiting from a gambling activity.

The pair's attorney, Joe Conway, confirmed that the website was voluntarily shut down, but that neither he nor his clients have been furnished with any information from the government, other than a search warrant.

Taxes due on gambling winnings: While we wait for the Ron & Mike's pool to progress through the legal system — and its former clientele to find other ways to bet their money — let me take advantage of the situation to remind folks that all gambling income is taxable.

The Internal Revenue Service doesn't care if your winnings came from a survivor pool, a friendly office pool arrangement or game/player bets made online via fantasy leagues like FanDuel or DraftKings or in person legally only in Nevada … until the Supreme Court of the U.S. decides the New Jersey sports betting case it just heard.

True, only places like casinos and horse race tracks across the country and Vegas, baby, sports books will give you, and the IRS, documentation of your winnings. But even without those official winnings, and sometimes tax withholding, forms, you should report all your gambling income on your 1040.

You don't want to end up like professional golfer John Daly, having to reconstruct your betting activities, in order to answer a tax auditor's questions.

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