Alaska is among the states with the strictest gambling laws. Most gaming activities are forbidden by state law. The traditional forms of betting, poker, and casino games are off the table. There are a handful of options available for residents and visitors of the state. Read below to learn more about the history of gambling laws in the state of Alaska and the latest legal status of the different gambling activities in The Last Frontier.
A Dive into the History of Gambling Laws in Alaska
Unfortunately for many gambling enthusiasts, there is not much to be said about the history of the AK gambling laws. Little to no attempt has been made for updates or the legalization of gambling activities in the state. In summary, 1960 was the year the first Alaska gambling laws were written with the Department of Revenue becoming the enforcement body of gaming regulations, and bingo being legalized.
Pull-tabs were made legal in the state in 1984. In 1993, Alaska banned all wheel, card, and dice games before a tribal casino could be built in Klawock. Ten years later, in 2003, an attempt was made to legalize a state lottery, but with no success, leaving Alaska among the few states without an operating state lottery. Most recently, in 2008, Alaska residents voted to determine if gambling would be partially legalized. Expectedly, the vote was rejected. Up to date, there are no commercial land-based casinos or bookmakers operating in the state.
Legal Status of Gambling Activities in Alaska
In the table below, you can see that most of the popular gambling activities are prohibited by the AK gambling laws and unavailable for residents and visitors of the state. Slots, blackjack, roulette, poker, and equivalent casino games are all illegal. The same applies to sports betting, horse race betting, and lottery. According to the Alaska State Legislature, gambling is considered a violation for the first offense and a class B misdemeanor for the second and each subsequent offense.
|Gambling Activity||Legal Status|
|🏈 Sports Betting||Illegal|
|🏆 Daily Fantasy Sports Betting||Legal|
|🐴 Horse Race Betting||Illegal|
|💯 Bingo, Pull-Tabs, and Raffles||Charitable Gambling Only|
There are merely a few exceptions of the law. Social or home poker games are allowed as long as no “house” or individual person is making a profit out of them. While traditional sports and horse race betting are prohibited, Alaska residents can participate in betting related to some of the most anticipated and popular events in the state. An example of one such event is the dog mushers’ contests typical of Alaska.
Daily fantasy betting is also available in Alaska. Daily fantasy sites like DraftKings and FanDuel operate in the state, as there is currently no legislation against them. Online gambling is not specifically prohibited by the gambling laws in the state of Alaska, though some may argue that the law is broad enough to include that as well. Still, the fact is, there has been no recorded enforcement activity against online gamblers in the state.
Charitable Gambling on the Territory of Alaska
Charitable gambling is the only legalized gambling in the state of Alaska. This includes bingo, pull-tabs (an alternative to scratch cards), and raffles operated by charities and municipalities. All organizations operating such activities are strictly regulated by the Department of Revenue which issues permits and licenses, monitors for meeting compliance requirements, and collects fees and taxes.
There are multiple requirements to be met before being able to operate gaming activities under the charitable gambling laws in Alaska. Furthermore, a permit or license can easily be revoked for even minor violations of these requirements. To begin with, only charitable, and civic or service organizations could receive a license. The law is especially strict regarding the games allowed under the charitable AK gambling laws:
(b) With the exception of raffles, lotteries, bingo games, pull-tab games, race classics, rain classics, goose classics, mercury classics, deep freeze classics, dog mushers’ contests, snow machine classics, canned salmon classics, salmon classics, animal classics, crane classics, Calcutta pools, and king salmon classics, an activity may not be licensed under this chapter unless it existed in the state in substantially the same form and was conducted in substantially the same manner before January 1, 1959. The Alaska Gaming Reform Act (Act)
There are limitations to the total value of all door prizes offered or awarded. The total value of all door prizes offered and awarded at a single facility or bingo hall or parlor by an operator should not exceed $20,000 a month or $240,000 a year. A municipality or a qualified organization may award a maximum of $2,000,000 in prizes each year.
Significant portion of the net proceeds of the charitable gambling activities must be dedicated to political, educational, civic, public, charitable, patriotic, or religious uses in the state. According to the charitable gambling laws, only people 19 and older are allowed to play bingo. Visitors and residents of the state must be 21 and older to participate in any other gambling activities.
Casinos Operating in the State of Alaska
There are a few tribal casinos available in Alaska. All of them are authorized by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) and allowed to operate under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1986. According to IGRA, there are three gaming classes:
- Class I includes social games and traditional/ceremonial games. There are no restrictions for Indian tribes offering such games.
- Class II includes bingo and non-banked card games. Under IGRA, tribes do not have to enter into any agreements at the state level to offer such gaming activities. They are regulated by the tribal governments with NIGC oversight.
- Class III gaming includes any other form of gambling, including commercial casino-style gambling activities. To operate these types of games, there must be a tribal-state gaming compact between the state and tribe. In addition, the compact must be approved by the federal government to be deemed valid.
Currently, in the state of Alaska, the Native American casinos are only class I and class II. There are no class III casinos as of the time of writing this article. The games available in the tribal casinos are the same as everywhere else – bingo, pull-tabs, and raffles – with the one difference that tribal casinos are not required to give a portion of their income for charitable purposes.
The only commercial casino experience is made available via the popular casino cruises. How they work is you get on a yacht and travel into international waters (usually near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) where gambling is legal. The casino will remain closed up until this point, and then it will be opened for gamblers to enjoy a variety of slot machines and table games.
In 1995, cruise ship gambling activities were legalized in Alaska waters, which generated $500,000 in revenue for the state. The law, however, expired after 1995, once again making cruise ship gambling activities in Alaska waters illegal.
Alaska Online Gambling Laws
As mentioned earlier in our review, online gambling is not regulated by the Alaska state laws. It is highly unlikely there will be internet gambling laws imposed by the state anytime soon. Essentially, this means that online gambling is legal, and online gamblers would not be prosecuted or face any repercussions. Since there are no internet gambling laws in Alaska and online gambling is unregulated, it is extremely important that each player thoroughly explores the online casino sites available for Alaska players to ensure their personal safety and well-being.
Alaska Gambling Laws – Takeaways and Closing Words
Alaska is a state with one of the strictest gambling laws in America. Roulettes, blackjack, slot machines, live poker, sports betting, horse race betting, and many other casino games are prohibited. The only exceptions are charitable gambling activities, including bingo, pull-tabs, and raffles. You would be surprised to know that, compared to Alaska, the Hawaii gambling laws are even tougher.
There are only a few tribal casinos class II on Alaska territory. The only authentic commercial casino gambling experience is available in international waters aboard casino cruise ships. There are no Alaska online gambling laws applicable. Online gamblers are free to try their luck at international casino sites available for the state’s residents.
Given their history so far, Alaska gambling laws are not expected to change anytime soon. For reference, the New York gambling laws are a complete opposite of the laws in Alaska. Those of you who are eager to learn more about the online gambling industry in the US can check out our detailed article about the best online casino sites in the USA.
Alaska Gambling Laws FAQ
This concludes our in-depth review of the gambling laws in Alaska. Finally, we have prepared a brief list with the most commonly asked questions online. We hope our answers in the FAQ section below will further help shed light on the topic.