Gambling is a fun and thrilling way to pass the time. Whether you’re gambling in a casino or online, playing games of chance is exciting and interesting – especially when the chance mixes with skill and competition with other players. Gambling has existed for almost as long as human beings have, and whether it has happened in roman dice games or back-room poker games, it has always earned fans among those of us who seek out thrills.

But there’s one sort of thrill that you don’t want when you’re gambling, and that’s the frightening thrill that comes with a run-in with the law. Gambling is strictly regulated and, in many states and countries, is outright illegal. To enjoy a safe and fun time gambling, you’re going to want to be to sure to always stay on the right side of the law.

Going to the casino: the legal and safe way to gamble

The easiest way to be sure that you’re gambling legally is to head to a reputable casino. In places like Las Vegas, gambling is legal and huge casinos thrive. Choose a casino that is clean and feels safe and well-patrolled. There is such a thing as an illegal casino, but if you use your common sense, you’ll likely never end up in one. If you see a billboard on the highway advertising a casino, that’s going to be a legal casino (highway patrolmen can see billboards, too, after all). If the casino is somewhere that it seems like it shouldn’t be – in the backroom of a bar or at a private residence – well, you can probably figure out that something is probably very wrong legally.

Online gambling: check your state laws

Another way to gamble is online. Online gambling is a big business, and for good reason: gambling websites bring all the thrills of the casino to the comforts of your home, and they make it easy to cash in and out electronically. There’s nothing like gambling in your pajamas! You sure can’t do that in Las Vegas – not at most casinos, anyway.

Online gambling is legal in many places, but it isn’t always legal for every gambler. Your best bet is to check your local laws and see if you’re eligible to gamble online legally. You shouldn’t need a lawyer for this – a simple Google search should suffice, as the laws are pretty straightforward in many places. Keep in mind that, while there’s plenty of advice on the internet about how to circumvent laws against online gambling, it’s never a good idea to break the law. When you gamble illegally, you could get in trouble – and if you get ripped off, there won’t be very much that you can do about it.

Gambling winnings are taxable

You’re more likely to lose money than to win when gambling, but the thrill of winning more than makes up for that in the mind of many gamblers. Keep in mind, though, that not everything you win while gambling belongs to you. Just as it is with other forms of income, a chunk of your winnings will belong to Uncle Sam. Sorry, but that’s just how it is

Gambling earnings are easy enough to pay taxes on – a basic tax program or any accountant can help you make sure that you do it correctly. You probably won’t pay too much on small earnings, so there’s not much reason to dodge this law.

It’s certainly common for casual gamblers to forget or intentionally avoid paying taxes on their gambling winnings. But failing to pay taxes on gambling winnings is technically tax fraud, and tax fraud is no joke! It’s better to be safe than sorry, so keep records of your gambling winnings and record them properly when it’s time to pay your taxes. Your tax program, accountant, or tax lawyer will know what to do with your records.

Use your common sense

With the simple tips above, it should be very easy to stay on the right side of the law when you’re gambling. After all, all you really have to do is gamble in a legal casino (online or in person) and pay taxes on your earnings. It’s common-sense stuff, and it’s all you really need to do to ensure a safe and legal gambling experience.