Everyone who plays an online casino game or the lottery hopes to win. They hope to win a jackpot or the lotto in the form of millions of dollars, a life-changing sum of money.
However, most people have no idea what to do when they actually win real money at an online casino in Canada.
When we asked some online casino jackpot winners if they were prepared, they unanimously said no. They all expressed regrets about making rash decisions without enough knowledge about what to do.
With that in mind, we asked some financial and legal experts for their top recommendations for newfound jackpot winners.
Take a Deep Breath
The very first thing for a jackpot winner to do is to take a deep breath. Then, take about 100 more.
A person’s initial reaction tends to be a celebration. He or she wants to call everyone they know or post about their win on social media. Stop! Take a few deep breaths first and think through every move going forward.
The last thing a person wants is for long-lost relatives to come calling or to be overwhelmed by random advice from others. Unless those others have won the same type of jackpot, their advice is not going to be helpful.
Contact a Casino Customer Representative
It is likely that a representative of an online casino will call a jackpot winner immediately after a massive win. If not, call or message the casino’s customer service department right away to ask what you need to do to verify the win.
However, be careful not to commit to anything except to claim the win. Do not choose how to withdraw the money or when that will happen. Simply ask the customer service representative what the online casino requires while obtaining a contact person for a later time. Plan ahead beforehand by picking a high-rated site from our online casinos, but don’t get in a rush after you’ve won a big jackpot — Canadian gaming sites are legit and the money will arrive.
End Your Gambling Session
Casinos watch gamblers from their security cameras all the time anyway. But if you take the casino for a bunch of money, you’ll be under special scrutiny for the rest of your time in the venue. Avoid unwanted scrutiny and any potential challenges to how you’re playing by ending the session. Walk away while you’re ahead.
Do the Paperwork and Be Patient
Expect to do some paperwork while the casino double-checks your massive jackpot. They’ll want to verify the win, check the machine, produce fax forms, make certain you’re not on a restricted list (self-exclusion, black list), and inform the managers of what’s happened. Jackpots are big money for casinos, too, and you’ll need to do a lot of paperwork.
An online casino operator may want to immediately broadcast the jackpot winner’s information. Depending upon the size of the jackpot, they may want to call the media to bring national or international attention to the win.
It is best to immediately request anonymity. If they must broadcast something, ask that they use a nickname or initials. The last thing a person who wins a life-changing amount of money wants is for strangers to find a way to contact them.
Choose an Annuity or a Lump Sum
Just like lottery winnings, casinos offer the option of being paid a lump sum or an annuity (annual fixed sum). Most people take the lump sum amount, but the annuity pays more over time. Also, the annuity saves on taxes in some cases.
Don’t worry; you’ll have time to research the question. You have 90 days to decide on which type of payment you want.
Expect to Sign Tax Forms
By law, American casinos are required to report any jackpots of $1,200 or more to the IRS. If you win thousands upon thousands of dollars (or more), you’ll be filling out the paperwork and paying the IRS their share of the bounty. Don’t fight this; pay the taxman and get on with the good life.
Contact a Lawyer
The first person to contact after the customer service department is an attorney. If without one, do some research online as to the best local attorneys, preferably one who has dealt previously with similar situations of clients coming into large sums of money.
Take the time to find the right lawyer, secure his or her services with a retainer, and sign the appropriate paperwork, including a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. This can take days or weeks but is one of the most important things to do before withdrawing winnings.
Contact a Financial Consultant or Advisor
The lawyer may have ideas as to a proper financial consultant or advisor who has experience with jackpot or lottery winners. The person should come highly recommended and be bonded or insured. In addition, the person should be affiliated with a reputable accounting firm, which serves as another layer of insurance that the player will be treated with respect.
The financial consultant will instruct the player as to how to withdraw the money, what kind of bank account to use to store the funds, and how to begin making decisions about moving the funds into a savings account. That account should earn interest so the player may immediately begin earning interest on their winnings.
Find a Confidante
Think seriously about a person that could not only be trusted with privileged information but one who would be honest and smart with advice.
A jackpot winner will want to tell someone and share the joy. That is understandable! Simply take the time to choose that person wisely. Remember that everyone will want to celebrate but only a true friend will give straightforward and tough advice when needed.
Don’t Make Rash Decisions
Don’t quit the day job! Don’t tell creditors to bug off!
There will be time to make those decisions, but there are many factors to consider first.
Speak with the confidante, lawyer, and financial advisor before doing anything like quitting a job, paying off a loan, or buying something extravagant. All of these things can be accomplished in due time, so there is no need to make any decisions that cannot be undone.
Take the time to savour the win! Jackpots are only dreams to players around the world, so winning is something that should be treasured and enjoyed. It is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make smart decisions so there are no regrets in the long run.