Guide to Alaska's Gambling Laws, History and Venues
Alaska, known as The Last Frontier, is the largest state in the U.S., and the third least populous. In 2016, it was estimated that their population was around 741,894.
While it's one of the least populous states, it's also one of the most expensive states to live in. This is caused by limited transportation options.
Natural gas, oil industries, fishing and tourism are the main sources of income in Alaska.
Although Alaska has strict gambling laws for their state, they have no restrictions on online gambling.
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Online Gambling and Alaska Law
Is Online Gambling Legal in Alaska?
The short answer is yes, online gambling is legal in Alaska.
Alaska has no written laws that address online gambling and there have been no attempts to pass a law that would prohibit online gambling.
There's no state-regulated online gambling, and it doesn't seem that residents or the government of Alaska are interested in changing that.
Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Alaska?
The attorney general has said that online gambling can be covered with the current laws, but no enforcements have ever been made to keep Alaska residents from gambling online.
No one in Alaska has been arrested for gambling online, and I doubt anyone ever will.
Breaking down what exactly is or isn't legal in Alaska. Gambling Venues in Alaska
Where to gamble in the state of Alaska. The History of Gaming Laws in Alaska
A brief history of Alaska laws regarding gambling. The Furture of Gambling in Alaska
What does the future of gambling look like in Alaska?
More Gambling Laws in Alaska
Casino Games: Illegal
Casinos and casino games are prohibited in Alaska.
Section 11-66-280 of the Alaska Statutes defines gambling as:
"means that a person stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the person's control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that that person or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome;"
Alaska doesn't focus on who is gambling as much as who is running the casino. So if you're just planning on playing your casino games online and not running your own basement casino, you're in the clear.
Section 11-66-280 of the Alaska Statues defines a gambling enterprise as:
"a gambling business that
(A) includes five or more persons who conduct, finance, manage, supervise, direct, or own all or part of the business;
(B) has been or remains in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of 30 days or has a gross income of $2,000 or more in any single day; and
(C) is not a municipality or a qualified organization under AS 05.15.690, except that, for purposes of this paragraph, no application for a license under AS 05.15 is required to be considered a qualified organization;"
A popular casino option for residents of Alaska is through cruises. Residents can take a cruise to international waters or off the coast of Canada and enjoy a full casino on board.
Another popular option is online gambling, where Alaska residents can play every casino game for a profit. The majority of online casinos that accept American players accept players from Alaska.
Just because Alaska doesn't allow casino games in their state, doesn't mean they don't produce great poker players.
Perry Green is a two-time main event finalist and three-time WSOP bracelet winner from Alaska.
Greg Hobson is also from Alaska, and won the 2012 WSOP ante-only event.
Sports and Racing Betting: Illegal With Some Exceptions
Alaska has no land based racetracks or sportbooks. The closest thing to race or sports betting you can find in Alaska is a charity gambling opportunity. The charity gambling opportunity usually consists of betting on a fishing contest or guessing the time of a sled race. The closest guess wins a prize, and the profits of the event go to charity.
Being a bookmaker in Alaska is illegal and, with the lack of any tracks, there are probably not many people trying to be one. Here's what Section 11-66-230 of the Alaska Statutes says about gambling records:
"(a) A person commits the crime of possession of gambling records in the first degree if, with knowledge of its contents or character, the person possesses a gambling record used or intended to be used in the operation or promotion of an unlawful gambling enterprise. (b) Possession of gambling records in the first degree is a class C felony."
Online sports and racing betting is not prohibited, so feel free to join a fantasy league, bet on your pick during the super bowl or pick your favorite horse.
Lottery and Bingo: Legal With Restrictions
Alaska has no state lottery, and currently has no plans or hard pushes to get one. The state does give permits for some places to have pull-tab games. Pull-tab games are paper, lottery-type cards where you pull the tab to reveal a symbol rather than scratching it off. Pull Tab games are available for purchase if you're 21 years or older.
Bingo halls are allowed in Alaska, but require a permit, and must be run by either a charitable organization or native group. Alaska currently has about 13 bingo halls in the state.
Social Gambling: Legal With Restrictions
Section 11-66-280 defines social gambling as:
"gambling in a home where no house player, house bank, or house odds exist and where there is no house income from the operation of the game"
Alaska residents can basically play any game they want, as long as they don't profit from it. You can play poker or blackjack as long as no one has to pay or exchange goods for the chips.
Section 11-66-280 of the Alaska Statutes defines profits from gambling as:
"a person, acting other than as a player, accepts or receives money or other property under an agreement or understanding with another person by which the person participates or is to participate in the proceeds of gambling;"
Alaska even has strict laws on arcade games. Arcade games like pinball or Pacman are only legal if the player doesn't receive something of value in return for winning or playing.
Section 11-66-280 of the Alaska Statues defines something of value as:
"any money or property; any token, object, or article exchangeable for money or property; and any form of credit or promise directly or indirectly contemplating transfer of money or property or of an interest in money or property or involving extension of a service, entertainment, or privilege of playing at a game or scheme without charge;"
The exception to this is free plays--if you win and are awarded another game for free, it's legal.
Gambling Venues in Alaska
Gambling venues in Alaska are limited to bingo halls where you can play both bingo and pull tab games.
The closest casino to Alaska is in British Columbia, which is around 50 miles away from the city of Ketchikan.
The next closest option for a casino is to travel over 2,000 miles south to another British Columbia casino. This casino is larger than the one outside of Ketchikan, and offers live dealers.
Russia is another option for Alaskan residents who want to play in a casino.
All of the above options require a passport. Traveling to Las Vegas would take a longer time than the previous options, but it wouldn't require a passport.
Here's a list of the current bingo halls in Alaska:
1 - Boniface Bingo
360 Boniface Pkwy
Anchorage, Alaska 99504
Phone: (907) 333-3600
Games start at 7:30 p.m. daily.
2 - Northern Lights Bingo
703 W Northern Lights
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
Phone: (907) 278-2975
Games start at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily.
3 - Tudor Road Bingo
3411 E Tudor RD
Anchorage, Alaska 99523
Phone: (907) 561-4711
Games start at 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. daily.
4 - Honest Bingo
200 1st Avenue
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
Phone: (907) 456-5298
Games are available daily.
5 - Youths Sports Bingo
626 5th Ave
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
Phone: (907) 452-4834
Games start at 7 p.m. daily, 11 p.m. on Fridays and 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
6 - American Legion
2410 East Road
Phone: (907) 235-8864
Games start at 12 p.m. every Saturday.
7 - Diamond Rose
10639 Kenai Spur Highway
Kenai, Alaska 99611
Phone: (907) 283-6445
Games start Tuesday through Thursday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m.
8 - VFW Bingo
3113 Tongass Ave
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901
Phone: (907) 225-5510
Games start at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
9 - Solid Green Bingo
212 Front St
Phone: (907) 443-2378
Games are available daily.
10 - Elks Lodge
2600 Barry Road
Palmer, Alaska 99645
Phone: (907) 745-3950
Games start at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.
11 - American Legion
205 Lincoln St
Sitka, AK 99835
Phone: (907) 747-8629
Games start at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
12 - Sitka Tribe of Alaska Bingo
456 Katlian St
Sitka, Alaska 99835
Phone: (907) 747-4915
Games start Saturday through Monday at 7 p.m.
13 - American Legion
Mile 46 Parks Highway
Phone: (907) 373-7825
Games start Thursday and Friday at 6:45 p.m. and Sunday at 1:45 p.m.
History of Gambling in Alaska
The legislature gave the Department of Revenue total gaming activity control, and bingo was the only game allowed by state law.
The National Indian Gaming Commission approved the construction of a casino in Klawock, Alaska in 1993. Construction of the casino on tribal land had just started when the state banned card, wheel, and dice games. This law put a stop to not only this casino and any other idea of a traditional casino to come.
Alaska allowed cruise ships to offer gambling in their waters. Cruise ships had to pay a one-time fee to the state of Alaska, and in a single year, more than $500,000 dollars was generated for the state from this law. The law expired at the end of 1995, and it has never been re-enacted despite the large revenue.
Pull tab games were authorized through the obtaining of a permit for businesses and charity organizations that obtain prmits for them.
Mike Von Gnatensky ran for mayor of Anchorage in 1987. One of the major points of his campaign was to bring in casino owners to invest in the city of Anchorage. Gnatensky had real plans and communication with potential investors, but he didn't receive enough votes to run in the general election.
Alaska officials saw some interest from their residents during Gnatensky's campaign, and in 1990 they asked Alaskan residents to vote on legalizing gambling and establishing a state gambling board. The vote failed when 90,827 voted against the measure while only 50,446 voted for it.
HB240 was an amendment that could create a state lottery system, but when it was presented to the Alaska state legislature in 2003, they rejected it.
Another vote to legalize gambling and establish a state gambling board was conducted in 2008, but it lost again with 116,670 votes against it and only 73,463 votes for it.
- A response from the Chief Assistant Attorney General on computer video games and state gambling laws.
- The result of a poker game running at an American Legion post. The American Legion post had a permit to run charity bingo, but had also been running a poker game. This page talks about poker in the state of Alaska, and if the American Legion post was allowed to run it or not.
- Charitable Gaming Statues and Administrative Code of Alaska; covers all gaming aspects in depth.
Alaska Gambling Future
Based on the history of Alaska gambling, I don't see anything changing soon. The Alaskan government continues to deny tribes from building casinos on their lands, and the residents of Alaska don't seem too interested in legalizing gambling.
So far, two attempts have been made to legalize gambling and establish a gaming board in the state, but both have failed by over 40,000 thousand votes each time.
Dog mushing is the closest thing Alaska has to dog racing, and horse racing is nonexistent in the state. Racing is illegal unless for a charity event, and I don't see this changing in the future because of both the dying interest in this type of betting and the climates in Alaska.
One form of gambling that could be in sight for Alaska's future would be a lottery. They already permit pull-tab lottery tickets, which are just paper versions of scratch offs. If the state allowed a state ran lottery, they could profit from it greatly.