In Australia, a professional gambler usually has to pay up on money made in offshore wins. Not Joseph Hachem, however. The Australian poker player has managed to convince the government that his USD $7.5 million (AUD $10 million) first place prize from the 2005 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event were earnings generated through a "hobby" rather than through a bona fide profession. Consequently, the Australian Taxation Office ruled in favor of him keeping his winnings in their entirety.
Hachem's lawyer, Peter Donovan, successfully argued the case that poker was his client's hobby, not his profession, when he won the Main Event; At the time, he was working as a mortgage broker in Melbourne. The government's ruling has saved Hachem from forking over AUD $3.5 million in taxes. Meanwhile, the American government has already taken 30%, or AUD $3 million, of Hachem's win.
Whether or not Hachem will have to declare his future wins as a professional income is uncertain. Although he has decided to take full advantage of his WSOP win to become a full time player, Donovan has claimed it remains unclear as to what category Hachem's new career will fall under in his native country. "The distinction between the conduct of a business and the pursuit of a hobby is often a difficult distinction to draw," he said.