Who Gets the Charitable Donation for the WSOP’s One Drop Events?

At this year’s World Series of Poker, there are two events where money is donated to the One Drop Foundation: the high rollers event with a $111,111 buy-in (won by Tony Gregg for $4.8 million over the weekend), and the “Little One for One Drop” later this week with a $1,111 buy-in. I received an email over the weekend:

I played in the High Rollers No-Limit Hold’em over the weekend, and was wondering if I got the charitable donation or if Caesars [the owners of the WSOP] did? According to the WSOP, $3,333 of the entry went to One Drop.

The Tax Code (which is law) requires that charitable donations be substantiated. This can be done through a written statement provided by the charity. These can also be proven through copies of cancelled checks, credit card statements showing the donation, and cellphone statements. However, anyone claiming a donation of $250 or more must obtain the written acknowledgment from the charity.

The individual who sent me an email also sent a copy of his buy-in receipt. It clearly shows he entered the High Roller event for $111,111; however, nowhere on the receipt does it show a donation receipt to any charity for any amount–just that the individual paid $111,111 to enter the tournament. An individual player does not meet the Tax Code’s substantiation requirements for a charitable donation.

As to who gets the donation, that’s clear: Caesars does. They have taken $3,333 from each of the 166 entries and donated $553,278. Caesars will be able to take the donation on their corporate tax return (subject to the restrictions on charitable donations made by corporations).

I assume the entry receipts for the Little One for One Drop will be similar (nothing being shown on the receipt acknowledging the charitable donation). Thus, the charitable donation of $111 per entry in the Little One for One Drop is rightly taken by Caesars. However, poker players entering the Little One for One Drop (and those who entered the One Drop High Roller event) do have a gambling loss if they do not cash in the event.

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