Two Casino Chip Theft Cases, Two Arrests (Illegal Income Primer)

When I learned math, I learned that 1 times any number is that other number, and that 0 times any number is 0. So if I steal 400,000,000,000 play money poker chips (each can be converted to absolutely nothing), I’ve stolen, well, nothing.

I guess I should say nothing of value as a British hacker broke into and stole 400 billion play money poker chips. Unfortunately for Ashley Mitchell he still may have violated British hacking laws. And some individuals actually exchanged money for those play money chips: Apparently Mr. Mitchell earned £53,000 (about $86,000) before finding himself arrested. Now, I won’t ask why anyone would buy play money poker chips….

Meanwhile, you may have heard about the brazen bandit who robbed the Bellagio in December. He scooped up a whole bunch of cranberry casino chips (each worth $25,000) which the Bellagio immediately canceled. So what do you do with such chips?

You try to sell them to anyone for pennies on the dollar. The bandit also allegedly grabbed some lower denomination chips which he quickly spent. He lost money playing poker at the Bellagio (yes, in what has to be a Bozo decision the bandit decided to play poker in the casino he allegedly robbed)…and stayed at the Bellagio. He communicated with posters on the 2+2 Poker forums, and sent pictures signing his name as “Bellagio Bandit” and writing a postscript that noted that, “Cranberries are good for the liver.” He’s now sitting in a Las Vegas jail awaiting his preliminary hearing.

So what has this to do with taxes? Well, just remember that illegal income is just as taxable as legal income. The two alleged thieves need to note on their tax returns the illegal income they made or they can be tried for the federal crime (in the case of Mr. Mitchell, the British crime) of tax evasion. If you have illegal income remember to put it down on line 21 of Form 1040 as “Other Income.”

A better bet is to just not commit dumb crimes. But if that were the case I wouldn’t be able to laugh when I read stories like these.


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