Online Poker Laws In Alaska


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Gambling In The Last Frontier

alaskaWith its breathtaking scenery and wide-open spaces, residents of Alaska have plenty of options when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. But Alaskans who would rather find entertainment indoors in the form of online gambling also have opportunity to do so, if they know where to look.

Currently, charity games and tribal casinos are the only legal land-based gambling options Alaskans have. Online gambling is also an option, as the Alaska legislature has yet to consider legalizing or banning gambling on the Internet. Alaska has no horse racing industry, state lottery or commercial casinos.

Land-based gambling laws in Alaska are pretty simple and direct when it comes to what is legal and what isn’t. Gambling outside one’s own home is a misdemeanor, as is possession of a gambling device. More serious, however, is promoting gambling, which is a Class C felony.[1]

The most recent legislation involving gambling of any kind was passage of HB245, by both the Alaska House and Senate earlier this year, which will allow Four Valleys Community School to host a “snow classic” as a form of charitable gaming. A snow classic, incidentally, is a guess at how much snow will accumulate at a specific location, such as Mount Alyeska, by a certain date and time. Contestants purchase a ticket and write their guess on it. The winner would receive half the money raised, while the other half of the proceeds would benefit the school. The bill goes before Gov. Sean Parnell in April, 2012, for his approval. It’s interesting to note that this legislation has been written with online activities in mind, stating that the raffle will make “use of broadcasting and the Internet to promote a raffle and lottery.”[2]

Online Gambling In Alaska Not Yet Legislated

The Alaska legislature has done little to nothing to decide whether online gambling is legal within its borders. As is the case with many other states, lawmakers have not fully embraced the Internet era (but at least mentioned it in the snow classic legislation) and seem more concerned about what can be controlled on land rather than dictate something that people can do in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. As also is the case with most states, there are numerous online gambling sites that pander to and accept players from Alaska. Gamblers in most any states, including Alaska, can simply search the Internet with a few select keywords and locate several casino sites offering seemingly endless options for gambling online.

“Alaskans who want to get in on the fun will find that there are plenty of options for gaming, all based on the lack of a law related to online gambling. Since there is no explicit ban on gambling over the Internet, it is not likely that anyone can determine it a crime to play the games online.”

Legal Forms of Land-Based Gambling in Alaska

While state statutes ban table games and slot machines in land-based gambling houses, Alaska residents who want to try their luck have the luxury of tribal casinos located throughout the state. There are a number of Indian casinos in Alaska that offer pull tabs and bingo. These casinos may not have roulette, blackjack, or keno, but they do give patrons a taste of the joy and excitement of gambling. These casinos are different from tribal casinos in other states in that they offer few games other than the previously mentioned pull tabs and bingo, and are only open at certain times of the day. Seating is also fairly limited, sometimes only 30 to a room. But with Alaska ranked forty-seventh in population in the U.S., gamblers probably need not worry about finding a spot.[4]

Almost But Not Quite, A More Recent History of Gambling in Alaska

In August, 2008, the creation of the Alaska Gaming Commission was up for vote. Had the measure passed, it would have established a board of seven commissioners, appointed by the governor, that would authorize and regulate all gambling establishments in the state of Alaska. Proponents of the Alaska Gaming Commission cited the success of not-for-profit organizations, educational organizations and charities that have the state government’s blessing to conduct games of chance, but not enough voters agreed. The measure was defeated 116,670 votes to 73,463 (61.4 percent to 38.6 percent).[5]

The August, 2008 defeat of the Alaska Gaming Commission wasn’t the only step taken by the Alaska legislature involving gambling, but it was the only measure to make it to a ballot. The Alaska Gambling Initiative, also known as Alaska House Joint Resolution 2, didn’t even make the ballot in 2008. The initiative “would have enacted a constitutional amendment to demand a public vote before any gambling for profit can be legalized in Alaska on a statewide or community basis.”[6]

Some 13 years earlier, the Alaska legislature nixed a form of gambling. In 1995, Alaska lawmakers banned “Monte Carlo nights”, events that mirrored regular casino activity, but benefitted not-for-profit groups, for fear that their operation would lead to a rise in full-scale gambling on tribal lands. “These activities were called to a halt, however, when lawmakers suspected that they might cause an influx of casinos on Native American lands in Alaska. Although the events were designed to benefit non-profit organizations in the state, the events were cancelled permanently.”[7]

Current and Future Gambling Prospects in Alaska

While there are laws on the books that make it legal to guess the weight of the biggest cabbage at the Alaska State Fair, little progress has been made toward changing the minds of Alaska’s lawmakers when it comes to gambling in a casino setting or online. For now, Alaska residents have tribal casinos and a scattering of bingo halls to enjoy land-based gambling. It seems relatively safe for those who wish to take a chance on online slots or roulette to do so. However, other than promoting the “snow classic” raffle on the Internet, Alaska legislators are not known to be considering any measures that would regulate online gambling in Alaska.

Citations and References

[1] Alaskan State Gambling Laws by the State legislature
[2] Alaska’s House Bill 245 allows for snow classic by Alaskan House and Senate
[4] Casinos in Alaska by 500Nations
[5] House vote on creation of Alaskan Gambling Commission is rejected – Ballotopedia records
[6] Alaska gambling Initiative doesn’t make House vote – Ballotopedia records
[7] Monte Carlo nights banned in Alaska by RTGBonusCodes