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POKER PLAYER DENIED TAX BREAK

Thursday, June 16 2011 : If you're thinking of making poker a business, read on...
 
The Globe and Mail newspaper carried a cautionary tale about a would-be poker pro and his tax problems this week, illustrating the need for prospective pros to make sure they have put in place clear indications of their intention to play professionally.
 
The newspaper reports that Toronto lawyer Steven Cohen decided to quit his $200,000-a-year legal career to become a full-time poker player.
 
It didn’t go well. Although he prepared by reading books, attending seminars and playing in internet and live tournaments, he did not enjoy great success, and by the end of his first year as a 'pro' in 2006 he had lost interest and $122 000, and decided to go back to lawyering.
 
Cohen claimed his losses in his next tax return on grounds that he had played as a business and was entitled to the losses as deductions, but the Canada Revenue Agency disagreed, ruling that Cohen's activities represented a hobby and not a business.
 
He appealed, and the findings of the Tax Court of Canada provide a cautionary tale for would-be professionals.
 
Judge Frank Pizzitelli sided with the taxman, saying that Cohen had failed to show he had been engaged in a commercial venture with a reasonable expectation of profit.
 
The judge dismissed Cohen’s attempt at bettering his game by buying books and attending a seminar, saying that was not business-like training. “I take judicial notice of the fact many hobby chess players I know have a small library on the game, chess moves and famous players, but are not professionals merely by such ownership of material,” the judge wrote. “The fact [Cohen] lost money every month, including the first three months he played smaller-stakes games, does not even suggest a superior skill set at that level.”
 
The judge also criticised Cohen’s business plan, ruling it was inadequate and did not include any proper budgeting, tax planning or financing. Cohen’s main source of financing, the judge noted, was increasing his credit card limit from $27,000 to $40,000.
 
“Having regard to all of the above, I cannot find that [Cohen] demonstrated that he conducted his venture in such a manner as to constitute a profession, calling, trade, undertaking, or adventure or concern in the nature of trade so as to fall within the definition of a business,” the judge ruled.
 
Benjamin Alarie, a law professor at the University of Toronto opined to the Globe and Mail that there will be a lot more cases like Cohen’s because so many Canadians are playing poker online.
 
Prof. Alarie said there is a big difference between playing poker recreationally and trying to become a professional. Recreational players are not taxed on winnings, but can’t write off losses. Professional players are taxed on winnings and can claim losses.
 
“There are a number of young Canadians who play online poker from their parents’ basement and they are earning significant amounts of money,” he said. “They’re in a tough spot because are they professional or are they not? They are not really relying on the winnings to support themselves, but they are making significant amounts of money. Should they be considered professional or not?”
 
He added that so far very few players have been able to convince the CRA and the courts that they have moved from recreational playing to becoming a professional. “It’s hard to say exactly where the line is because we don’t know where the line is,” he said. “It’s a fascinating case.”



Gambling News :

Betradar Launches US Sports Betting Solutions - With only a few weeks to go until the betting and gambling world descends on ICE in London, Betradar have today announced that they will be launching a comprehensive range of tools and services to any company that will be looking to provide sports betting in a post-PASPA United States.

Abdelaouhab Zizi Wins MPNPT Morocco Main Event - Abdelaouhab Zizi has defeated fellow Casablanca resident Fadhil Farag heads up to win the 2018 MPN Poker Tour Morocco Main Event and MAD 375,000 (c. €33,220) after a two-way deal.

Final 12 For MPNPT Morocco - Sunday on the MPN Poker Tour Morocco will see several trophies awarded at the Mazagan Beach Resort, with the largest going to the Main Event champion along with a prize of MAD 400,000 (c.€35,400).

MPNPT Morocco Updates - Leading the 104 combined survivors from both flights is still Said El-Yousfi with 272,000 chips; visit the MPN Poker Tour blog for an end-of-day recap and full chip counts.

MPN Poker Tour Morocco Day 1A - The MPN Poker Tour has returned to Morocco this week (January 11-14), featuring the MAD 1.5 million guaranteed Main Event, accompanying side events, and the activities and parties for which this tour has now become known on two continents.

2018 MPN Poker Classic - The MPN announces the return of The Classic tournament series this January. The series is back following its successful €350,000 guaranteed debut in 2017. This time €500,000 is guaranteed, along with a once in a lifetime trip to Monaco for the Classic Champion.

PDC and Sportradar Renew Deal - Following this month’s hugely successful World Championship, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and long-standing partners Sportradar have renewed their multi-faceted cooperation that will see the leader in sports data and content continuing in their role as official data

Poker Yaar Joins MPN - Available through download, instant play and mobile, Pokeryaar.com is live with Omaha, Hold’em and Five-Card poker variants, alongside MPN’s Fish Party, the industry’s only progressive jackpot SNGs.

New MPN Poker Rooms Tower Torneos - Impressed with Microgaming, having already integrated with the Quickfire platform to gain access to some of the industry’s best gaming content, Tower Torneos has extended the relationship with poker.<

NY Rangers vs. Devils on 12/21 - When the Devils and Rangers hit the ice on Thursday (7 PM ET on MSG), so too will two of the league’s top netminders. After a slow start to the season, Henrik Lundqvist has returned to his form of old. Through 29 games, he’s posted a 2.59 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage.

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