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Around the Bluhmin’ Town

2/3/16

Judy Bluhm

I have done something illegal. If you are with local law enforcement or the FBI, please stop reading immediately. I have placed a small bet on the Super Bowl. Guess I am not alone, since each year an estimated 200 million people wager on the Big Game to the tune of about 4.2 Billion bucks! Oh yea, not only do we like to eat our way through the Super Bowl, we like to throw in a little change on the action.

The history of gambling goes back to about 2300 B.C. and is considered one of the earliest forms of entertainment that has ever taken place in human existence. Cards, dice, and heads and tails games determined many country’s boundaries and territories. It decided the fate of which royal married or what weapons were to be used in a duel. Heck, in 2009 a Cave Creek election came down to the luck of the draw when two candidates who had tied for a seat on the town council chose the card trick as the deciding factor. The winner was Adam Trenk, when he chose the king of hearts and found a place in Arizona’s history books.

 Maybe it is in our genetic makeup, the thrill of throwing down a dollar or two on who might win a tournament. I suppose it makes us happy when buying a handful of five dollar Super Bowl squares. But wait, we also love the oddball wagers like what color will Katy Perry’s hair be at halftime or what color liquid will be dumped on the winning coach? How many horses will be in Budweiser ads? Not only do we like to bet on teams, we like to bet on just about anything! Oh, and it seems that about 97 percent of all betting that we do is considered illegal! Hmmm…do you know any criminals?

So I suppose if we place a few bucks on our favorite team at the office pool we could all go to jail? Well, not likely. But did you know that your winnings are considered income and you must report it to the Internal Revenue Service? (If you are an agent with the IRS please stop reading immediately). Well, sorry, but I am not going to report it if I win a few bucks on Super Bowl Sunday!

I have never had a “big win” but those that do soon realize that winning serious money when you gamble is not the same as getting pennies from heaven. I have a girlfriend who won $2,000 in the slots at a casino in Arizona and was so thrilled she put the money in her purse and ran for her life. She felt it was a huge stroke of good luck and was so afraid she would lose it all back into the slot machines that she left the casino “running like a wild woman.” Happy to have won, she said she was a little peeved that she had to pay the IRS a portion of her winnings. Guess when you play you have to pay.

If a slot machine goes ka-ching is the IRS listening? If you wager ten bucks that Coldplay’s halftime show will include Beyonce and Bruno Mars and win, is that reportable income? I know there are more questions about gambling, games, and money that require much more research. So maybe after the dust settles and the Vince Lombardi Trophy is handed to the winning team we will know exactly how much has been spent (lost) on the Super Bowl this year.

Here is the other sad truth about the Super Bowl. Most people watching the game hate both teams! Ouch. So why not make the entire spectacle even more miserable by betting (and losing) some money? Millions of Americans will have a party anyway, place prop bets on things like which team makes the longest field goal, which player loses his helmet, or which team is first penalized. You get the picture. In other words, pass the nachos, spend a few bucks, and cheer anyway. Betting? It’s in our genes.

 

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local writer. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.