For the most part, sports betting is a long term game with small wins and losses that add up over time to form a trend. Hopefully you win more than you lose, but generally sports betting is not a high volatility endeavor. That is, you do not often see huge swings in either direction.
However, “often” does not mean “always.” Sometimes you do stumble across an opportunity to plunk down a little for a chance to win a lot. Big accumulators, extreme long shot underdogs and certain horse racing superfectas are capable of producing wins that are way out of proportion compared to the original stake.
The most extreme example that comes to mind actually happened not all that long ago. A customer at Coral just a few weeks ago placed a series of horse racing accumulators totaling £19. The customer correctly picked the winning horses of five different races and ended up winning a total of £822,972.75.
As fun as it is to daydream about what you would do with all that money, there are some important details that must be attended to between winning your big bet and buying that shiny new sports car. These other considerations include figuring how you would cash out such a big win, how you would manage the money, understanding the tax implications and even deciding who you would tell.
You Have Just Won a Huge Bet Online. Now What?
For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll just say that a “huge” win is whatever you consider huge. It’s enough money that you found yourself checking and re-checking because you can hardly believe how much you’ve won. The exact value will vary from person to person, but it’s a lot for you.
1. Take Screenshots and Document Everything
Ok. First thing’s first: take screenshots and document everything. Take screenshots of the winning ticket, your account balance and the bet number (some bookmakers include a number with your bet ticket that is used to document individual wagers).
Screenshots are not picture-perfect proof that your bet was legitimate because screenshots can be altered fairly easily, but it is still a good idea to document everything you can. Having screenshots will only bolster your case should a dispute arise later. Plus, it will help you remember the exact wager, how much you risked, how much you won and so on.
2. Do not immediately cash out
You’ll probably be dying to hurry up and get your newfound winnings safely in the bank, but you need to make sure you are eligible to cash out. This should not be a problem with legitimate bookmakers, but some betting sites will confiscate your winnings if you still have an uncleared bonus and try to withdraw. Some of the worst betting sites will even confiscate your winnings if you try to withdraw too quickly after depositing.
So, the first order of business is to make sure you can safely withdraw your cash. Make sure you do not have any uncleared bonuses. If you just recently deposited, you should also check through all the site’s terms and conditions to ensure there is not some obscure clause that requires you to play a certain amount before withdrawing.
Again, these should not be issues at legitimate bookmakers such as William Hill and the like. I just think it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to a big betting win.
3. Call your betting site and ask them to help you withdraw
Calling your betting site before you withdraw accomplishes two things at once. First, you can ask the customer support people to make sure you’re eligible to withdraw. Document this conversation and note the support person’s name. Second, you can ask them to recommend the most efficient withdrawal method for a large amount of money.
Depending on the amount of money we’re talking about, some withdrawal methods will not work due to transactions limits that are too low for your money. Others may just be too expensive. Your betting site’s customer support will be able to tell you the most efficient way to withdraw your money all at once and with minimal fees.
4. Cash out your money and put it in the bank
Once you have talked to your support people and are ready to withdraw, it’s time to get that money immediately. We want to minimize the length of time your big winnings sit out there in cyberspace. Get the money and put it in your bank account so it is safe and insured.
Furthermore, you want to minimize any temptation to get back out there and begin gambling with the money you just won. This may sound crazy to some of you, but a lot of times the biggest wins are won by people who gamble often. You can always deposit again later if you want to gamble.
The number one priority for right now is to get your money safely tucked away into your bank account. Once your money is safe and sound in the bank, you can take all the time you need to plan your next move and figure out what to do with all that money.
5. Figure out your tax liability
Some countries tax gambling winnings; some do not. You will need to speak to a qualified accountant to understand what you owe the government. It will be very tempting to skip this step, but tax evasion can land you in some serious hot water. It is better to be safe than sorry with this amount of money.
The UK does not assess a tax on gambling winnings, but it would still be a good idea to talk with a professional no matter where you live. Tax codes are complicated things and you want to make sure you do everything by the book. Believe me on this point. You will sleep much better at night if you know without a doubt that you’re all settled with your country’s tax agency.
6. Make a smart, long-term plan for your money
Wise money management is not exciting in the moment, but a smart money plan will let you live a more exciting life over the long term. Plus, think about all those horror stories you hear about lottery winners who go broke within a few years of their big win. You don’t want to be just another horror story. Make a smart plan for your money.
If you have won a huge sum of money (say six figures or more) you need to get a financial advisor first. In fact, you should talk to a financial advisor before you talk to anyone else – this includes your friends and family. You’ll probably need to tell your spouse, but no one else needs to know right now. Take some time and figure things out. Then, you can decide who needs to know.
Even with a smaller amount, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to schedule a meeting with a financial planner. They might be able to talk you into making a smart investment that pays off huge dividends down the road, or help you avoid making any major mistakes. Don’t worry; you’ll still get to have some fun with your money. You just don’t want to make any decisions you regret later. Money goes fast no matter how much of it you have.
7. Wait at least six months before making any major decisions
Do not quit your job, buy an expensive car or move to an island. Do not make any expensive or life-altering decision while you’re still flush with your big gambling win. Give your brain some time to calm down and flush all those endorphins out so you can come back down to earth before you make any major decisions.
8. Keep the big news private for now
You will probably be tempted to share the good news with your friends and family, but this is not a good idea at first. Stories abound of big lottery winners going broke trying to help their friends and family with money after stumbling into a major windfall.
It’s OK to be a little selfish for now. Think of it this way: you won’t be able to help anyone if you go broke trying to be nice. So, avoid the awkwardness of having to say no by keeping your big win to yourself. You can later dole out money as you see fit.
If your win is really big, you can even use a financial advisor to serve as a buffer between you and your money. When word gets out and people start asking you for help, you can blame your financial advisor for not being able to cater to their every request.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.