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IRS warns against illegal sports gambling in Mississippi

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Football season has kicked off in Mississippi and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation (CI) division is informing sports bettors of the ramifications that could follow for illegally gambling on games.

Between 2021 and 2023, CI initiated more than 100 investigations into illegal gambling activity totaling more than $178 million. Of these, 89 cases resulted in indictments, with a 96 percent conviction rate for prosecuted cases. The average prison sentence for adjudicated cases was 23 months.

“With professional football being the most popular sport in the United States, this is a good time for us to highlight the issue of illegal gambling,” Demetrius Hardeman of the IRS said. “Those who participate in sports betting must ensure they are doing so legally and should review the laws in their states pertaining to it.”

In January, 11 people received a 114-count indictment stemming from their management of a multi-million dollar wagering excise tax evasion scheme involving an illegal sports-betting organization.

Among the counts in the indictment is tax evasion which the illegal sports-betting organization failed to report approximately $19.8 million. More than $20 million was seized by CI.

In Mississippi, the only legal wagers on sporting events can take place within the confines of certified casinos. Mobile sports betting is currently legal in 27 states.

Earlier this year, Governor Tate Reeves signed legislation into law that could open the door to legalizing mobile sports betting in the Magnolia State. An 11-member committee was created to study the matter.

The committee is tasked with preparing and submitting a final report that contains a detailed statement of findings, conclusions, and recommendations regarding mobile sports betting by October 15.

Individuals who engage in sports betting activities are required to report their winnings on their annual tax return using Form W-2G. Additionally, the IRS encourages individuals to keep detailed records of all gambling transactions, including bets placed, winnings received, and losses incurred.

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