Jerry W asks a very important question,
“What is the difference between a gambling addict and all these gambling channels. Are you all compulsive gamblers? Or can you stop at any given moment? Can you all stop gambling for a month? What do you tell viewers who have a gambling problem?”
I will not speak for others, but I do promise to be as open and honest as possible and to provide as much education as I can. I am not an expert and so have researched and provided links below.
The Mayo Clinic classifies compulsive gambling (or gambling disorder) as
the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling
means that you’re willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value. It can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction.
According to them, Symptoms include:
Personally, I do not have an addiction. I enjoy gambling responsibly and have learned the limits I need to set for myself over time. That wasn’t always the case however. When I was younger, I would sometimes gamble too much and I found myself gambling to make back the money I lost. That is a sure way to come away a loser every time, because when you win, you feel invincible and keep gambling…until it’s all gone. A jackpot is never big enough.
Some tricks I personally use to ensure it does not become a problem and that I recommend:
Casinos should be used as a form of entertainment, a place to hang out with friends or to just get away and have some excitement. It is NOT a place to go and get rich or to help you pay the bills. If the fun stops, so should you. My favorite saying is from the Ontario Lottery Gaming: Know your Limit, Play within It.
For more information or if you think you may have a problem, I encourage you to reach out to friends and family and to visit these suggested places as outlined on HelpGuide.org :
The National Council on Problem Gambling Helpline – Offers a confidential, 24-hour helpline for problem gamblers or their family members in the U.S. Call 1-800-522-4700. (NCPG)
Gamblers Anonymous – Twelve-step Gamblers Anonymous program, an international support network of meetings to assist people who have a gambling problem. Gam-Anon for the problem gambler's spouse, family members, or close friends. (Gamblers Anonymous)
Gamcare – Offers support, information, and advice for those with a gambling problem in the UK. Call the helpline 0845 6000 133. (Gamcare)
Gambling Help Online – Provides 24-hour helpline in Australia for counseling, information, and referrals. Call 1800 858 858. (Gambling Help Online)
Canadian Resources for Those Affected by Problem Gambling – Find help and information on problem gambling in your area of Canada. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
What Is Problem Gambling? – Learn about the gambling continuum and the key differences between recreational gambling and problem gambling. (British Columbia Responsible & Problem Gambling Program)
Freedom from Problem Gambling (PDF) – Self-help workbook for compulsive gamblers, with tips on how to avoid relapse and fight gambling urges. (UCLA Gambling Studies Program and California Department of Public Health)
Choosing a Treatment Facility – Learn what treatments are appropriate for problem gambling and what questions you should ask when look at facilities. (National Council on Problem Gambling)
Problem Gamblers and their Finances (PDF) – In-depth guide for treatment professionals on how to help a problem gambler cope with financial problems and pressures. (National Endowment for Financial Education)
Help for Family, Friends, Employers, and Co-Workers – Learn how gambling addiction affects family and friends and what you can do to address the problem. (Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services)
Personal Financial Strategies for the Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers (PDF) – Designed to help families deal with personal financial issues due to a loved one's problem gambling. (National Council on Problem Gambling)
Tipping Etiquette at the Casino
Today’s question comes in from Caudia B who asks, “Do you tip slot attendants when they pay you for a pay out, and how much?..from parking and anything in between”
It’s a question I get a lot and so I’ll give you my opinion – but it in no way is ‘the standard’, if there is one. Keep in mind that everyone has their own idea of how much to tip for everything in life; at restaurants, in a taxi, at the hair dresser etc.
Let’s start with Drink Service.
I recommend tipping what you would normally feel comfortable giving at a normal service bar. When I order a bottle of beer or a whisky, I usually give a dollar or two per drink. In Vegas Casinos, you get free drinks while you’re playing. The minimum you should tip is $1 per drink. If you ask for a beer and a bottle of water, then tip $2. (For some reason, when I order a cocktail, I tip $2 because I feel more time was put into creating it.) And just like when you’re at your local pub and it’s your favorite bar tender working; or if they’re generous and bring you an extra shot; or remember your drink order – then perhaps give them more! I usually give $5 a drink to those servers. If you’re ‘buying’ drinks for 3 people, then you can shoot them $10. You can be sure that the more you tip, the better and more frequent service you receive. I have some friends that religiously give $20 – and boy is our service (and drinks!) superior!
Getting a Hand Pay (a jackpot paid out in cash, generally over $1,200) is another bird all together. At this point it’s less about the action of paying you out and more about the overall experience in the casino. My rule is to offer $20 a hand pay OR 1%, whichever is more. Now I get it, 1% sounds soooo cheap, but believe me, it’s generous. Let’s have a look…
$1,200 Hand Pay = $20 tip
$2,000 Hand Pay = $20 tip
$5,000 Hand Pay = $50 tip
$10,000 Hand Pay = $100 tip
Every gambler knows that you lose more money than you win in the long run on slots. That’s why I feel these numbers are appropriate. You know that it cost you a LOT more than $10,000 to win that amount. I can also attest that as a bartender for almost a decade, I never once received a $100 tip (and I was an awesome bartender!)– so again, that’s where I see it being generous.
*Pro Tip (pun intended)
When tipping the attendant, it’s always a good idea to ask the people paying you if they share the tips or if it just goes to them. If there are two people helping you, and they keep their own tips, then you can split the tip between them. Otherwise, you can rest assured knowing they will put it in a shared ‘tip jar’ in the back (they have to, there are cameras on them!).
As an aside, I often get criticized in my videos for not tipping out the attendants on my own or during group pulls. You can rest assured I always do, it’s just not the focus of my videos. For group pulls, I prefer to wait until the end when I can easily divide the money up equally amongst the group and give a generous tip.
I’ve also been asked how much to tip Valet. It’s totally up to the person and their budget. I used to tip $2 back when I was younger, but these days I now do $5-$10 depending on service. Again, from the time they go to get your car, to the time it is delivered – you’re probably looking at 10 minutes of service. What is that worth to you?
To some of you reading, I’m a cheap bum – and to others, I’m very generous. I don’t think it’s the amount of tip that is most important, but rather the gesture. But what I’m most interested is where you stand. How much do you think is appropriate? Let me know on Facebook.
And if you want to see a time when I gave a couple hundred dollars in tips, then you’ll enjoy watching my $10,000 win LIVE at Seneca! (I gave $200 because of the extra service I received).
How do I Film my YouTube Videos?
Today's questions comes in from Sharon K who asks,
"I’m curious how you can film while playing, keep the view steady and still read comments. It
seems like your just using one cell. Also how do people do superchats and comments?"
Thank you so much for your Topic suggestion Sharon (enter yours below!). I will answer your question and take it one step further by explaining all of the equipment I use on my channel!
First and foremost Sharon and EVERYONE, you MUST subscribe to both my daily video Channel, Brian Christopher Slots, and my Live Stream Channel, BCSlots LIVE. Not just because I'm cool, but because you have to in order to comment or super chat. After you're subscribed, the comment box will remain for you to leave comments going forward, and a $ sign will appear beside that during live streams in order to send a Super Chat. Please also note that subscribing is free of charge and there is no fee to watch my videos on YouTube.
In terms of what I use to film, I'll go into full detail below with affiliate links to all products I use in case anyone is interested in using them for a new channel!
Reading the chat during a live stream is quite difficult when there are literally thousands of them in an hour. I also have to focus on the slot machine too haha. It is easy to miss a lot of comments, especially because I can only see 3 comments at a time. So I tend to scan the comments. There are a ton of repeat questions that I can easily ignore (like 'what casino are you at' or 'where's Marco?' lol), or questions that are way too personal which I also ignore haha. If something fun, unique or exciting catches my eye, then I'll try to read it out. Of course I always try to shout out Super Chats so I can thank that person for their support. I should also mention that Super Chats were created to help support the creator in their endeavors of providing quality content. That money helps to pay for my growing staff, equipment, travels and more. I am very strict about using my own income to use for my gambling only.
At the Casino I want to be as lean as possible. So it's just me, my iPhone X, my monopod with phone holder and extra battery cases that are fully charged (I have 4!). I love my monopod and now many channels use it too. It's much easier to carry with you than a tripod and less intrusive (although some security think it looks like it's a weapon!). It keeps it mainly steady with a little rockiness. I also own a gimbal stabilizer for those days that I am walking while filming. A rookie mistake is to run out of battery DURING a live stream (it has happened to me in the past. I'll sometimes bring my external battery charger as well with a long cord in case I need to charge while filming. I also encourage you to use a phone with a large harddrive on it, or you risk running out of space and not being able to film that giant jackpot you just hit (used to happen to me often!). If you can't afford a a phone with more space, then bring along a laptop or something else to upload your files to (however this takes time!). I used to do that for my first year - I'd just go up to my hotel room, unload and continue. One really great piece of advice - invest in an external hard drive! On one occasion I uploaded my videos to my laptop, deleted them off my phone and continued on my way. It wasn't until I was back home that I realized all of my videos were corrupt and I lost hours of footage (that cost me thousands of dollars!). So save those thousands and spend a few bucks to protect yourself by uploading your footage to more than one device or in the cloud. Even today, I keep doubles of everything until it's live on youtube.
To delve even deeper into how I produce, when I'm not at the casino I am busy at home filming commercials or live stream chats, editing, mailing out purchases from my store or prepping for upcoming events.
A quick list of my Green Screen Set-Up includes:
and the lighting to accompany it:
and for better audio:
Finally comes the editing process. There are many kinds of computers and programs to use, so feel free to use what you're comfortable with. This is my setup:
So as you can see, this job is quite costly. It took me many tries at purchasing the wrong equipment and failing - but I think I figured it out in the end. And now I can save you money from making the same mistakes I made!
To see all of the products on one page, visit my Amazon Affiliate Store. And for a more in depth view of starting your own YouTube Channel (Slots or otherwise), be sure to watch the Live Stream I did to give you all of my secrets!
Paying Taxes on Slot Machine Jackpots
I have received many, many blog suggestions from you all and a recurring one revolves around taxes. I was hesitant to respond as I am by no means an accountant, but I figured I'd offer a bit of guidance. The below is represented by my own experiences only within the US and playing slots.
The government wants all of your money. We already knew that. But there are ways of making sure they don't get their hands on it.
Basically ONLY when you win a Jackpot Handpay ($1200 or more), the casino is required to get the IRS involved and provide you with a W-2. Depending on the State or the Casino, they treat this differently. Some hold back 'estimated' taxes immediately, and others don't. In California and Nevada, they don't take them out. They will hand you a form stating your jackpot win and you are now required by law to file those wins as income at tax time. You will now be taxed at your tax bracket. Technically when you don't win a Jackpot, BUT leave a casino in the positive - you're suppose to claim that win too....technically...
Now for casinos who give you the OPTION to withhold taxes or not, what should you do? Well that all depends on how often you gamble, and how big the win is. If you're a regular gambler and you know for a fact that you'll be down overall at the end of the year - then don't have them take out the taxes on a small hand pay. You may as well collect the interest on that money instead of the government. My first year in the US, I told them to keep the taxes so that I'd have a nice surprise coming back at tax time...however the government took a year and a half to pay me back! No thank you! Now, if you win a large sum of $20,000 or higher (depending on what you normally bet/lose this will be a lot higher or lower for some readers), you may wish have the taxes withheld ONLY IF you can't trust yourself to spend that money. The worst thing you could possibly do is to keep all the money, spend it all, and then owe a lot at tax time that you can't afford. You have be honest with yourself and do what makes sense for you. Personally I'd have to win about $25,000 or more to consider holding back taxes or not, but I gamble multiple times a month.
To save yourself from owing anything at tax time, you must prove that you lost more money than you won. One way you can do that is by ALWAYS using your players card in the slot machine. This will track all the money that goes into the machines, and all the money that comes out. At the end of each year you can request a WIN/LOSS Statement from every casino you've played at, which (99 times out 100) will show that you lost more money. Granted, this is not a legal document, however it seems to work for most people. What you're supposed to do according to the IRS: "To deduct your losses, you must keep an accurate diary or similar record of your gambling winnings and losses and be able to provide receipts, tickets, statements, or other records that show the amount of both your winnings and losses." Talk about a buzz kill! But that's what they want. (Refer to Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions, for more information.)
For someone like me who visits dozens of casinos in a year, it's a part-time job in itself organizing all of this stuff - but with 50 hand pays a year, you better believe I do NOT want to be paying taxes on all of those 'wins'.
I urge you to take my notes with a grain of salt and to do your own research and to use a professional accountant...I am a professional slots player, aka I lose more than I win all the time. For a more in depth checkup on yourself, the IRS has provided an interview to help you determine how to claim your gambling wins/losses that you can follow.
Now to make the mood a little lighter, how about a few videos where I had to get the IRS involved because of a BIG WIN!
Now get out there and win some big jackpots!! (Just make sure you lose more so you don't owe any taxes, haha)
Brian Christopher is a popular YouTube Star specializing in Slot Machine Gambling Videos