USAfriendlyPokerSites.com

Alaska Online Poker & Gambling Laws

Alaska Poker
Alaska is one of the most conservative states in both politics and economic policies and nothing reflects this better than the state’s restrictive laws on gambling and betting. Casinos and other land-based gambling facilities are almost non-existent in Alaska. Even the tribal communities, who are usually allowed by states to set up casinos in their territories, do not get a pass in Alaska.

The few legalized facilities such as pull-tab stations and tribal bingo halls do not really qualify to be considered casinos. The players don’t participate in what the law defines as a game of chance.

The strict policies are not just a government directive but are also popular among the state citizens. On a couple of occasions, the electorate have had the chance to legalize regulated gambling through a ballot measure, but the bills have always been voted against.[1]

The Alaskan authorities have focused their efforts on preventing the establishment of gambling facilities rather than on the players. Therefore, there are quite strict laws prohibiting Alaskans from benefiting from proceeds of gambling.

Can Players From Alaska Play Poker Online?

Yes! Players from Alaska are being accepted to play for real money on all poker sites on our homepage. Although there are no local gambling websites, the state of Alaska has not put in place any restrictions denying Alaskan residents access to online poker sites. State residents can therefore play poker online on such sites.

The gambling law in Alaska allows you to play poker in a social setting where no person or house controls the game for profits. Most people are contented with playing these social games at home and in social gathering.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Alaska?

There is currently no law concerning playing online poker in Alaska and most people interpret this to mean that online poker is permitted. However, a number of critics argue that the absence of a legal provision permitting online poker means it is illegal. According to the Alaskan laws, unlawful gambling is defined as any type of gambling that is not specifically authorized by law. Taking this definition strictly, playing online poker is illegal in Alaska thus the second group of critics is right.

The laws seem to target mainly the organizations that run the games. No state policy restricts access to online poker platforms in Alaska and there have been no instances of Alaskan authorities confronting or prosecuting online poker players in the state to date.

The laws concerning gambling in Alaska are pretty strict. Indian tribes have tried to change these laws in the past, but they have not had any luck to date. The majority of the citizens in Alaska do not want gambling in their state. A proposal to introduce regulated gambling facilities was voted down by a nearly 2 to 1 vote in 2008.

Poker has actually been legalized in Alaska, but the guidelines are very strict. Establishments must apply for a license which includes a fee of $25,000. If they are approved for a license then they have to pay a $10,000 fee each year to keep their license. This means very few establishments will even be able to afford to open with the massive fees involved. [2]

The fees are high to run a land based poker room, but it is encouraging for Alaskans. Hopefully, this will lead the way for online poker regulation for residents of Alaska. Below is a list of some important facts concerning online poker in the state of Alaska:

  • There is currently no regulation for online poker in the state of Alaska
  • Poker has been legalized in the state of Alaska.
  • Alaska is one of the 7 remaining states that don’t have a state lottery.
  • Currently there is no specific law in the state of Alaska that discusses playing poker online.

Alaska Gambling History

Most states have long and interesting gambling histories, but this is not the case with the state of Alaska. There have been only a few changes especially a number of proposals to introduce regulated legal gambling in the state of Alaska. Sometimes the proposals have been shut down in entirety while other proposals have successfully gotten some types of gambling permitted.

Alaska has a history of shutting the doors on any form of gambling. Nonprofit bingo halls are permitted to operate, and they make the majority of their money from pull tabs. Poker has been legalized in Alaska, but very few people can afford the stringent fees to open a poker room.

Alaskans used to hold special charity events that were called Monte Carlo Nights. These were mock casinos set up to raise money for various charities. In the 1990s these were made illegal because the Alaskan government feared that allowing these events would lead to tribal lands building casinos.

Many people are upset about the decision to make Monte Carlo Nights illegal. These types of fundraisers brought in a lot of money for charities around Alaska. The people that attended these charity events and the people that held the events are very upset that they ended. They say that the claim by the government that Monte Carlo Nights will lead to tribal casinos is not a realistic claim.

Alaska’s chronological gambling history has been as follows:

1959

Alaska became a state and only charitable gambling was permitted.

1984

Business authorized to run pull-tab games after obtaining prior permits.

1987

For the first time in the history of Alaska, gambling was a major election issue. One of the top candidates in the mayoral elections, Mike Von Gnatensky, promised to legalize regulated gambling.

Unfortunately for the candidate, gamblers and the potential investors, Gnatensky lost in the primaries.

1990

Gnatensky’s campaign ignited considerable interest in legalization of gambling among Alaskans.

The perceived popularity of the motion prompted a ballot measure in the 1990 elections proposing that the state establishes a gambling board, but it was voted down.

1993

A license to establish a casino in the Alaskan tribal land, Klawock, was issued by the National Indian Gaming Commission. The state legislated a law that prohibited card, wheel and dice games thus killing the prospect of establishing the casino.

1995

State authorized cruise ship gambling only to withdraw before the end of the year.

2003

The HB240 amendment proposing the establishment of a state lottery was introduced but rejected by the state legislature.

2008

Another attempt to create a gambling board through popular vote failed to garner enough votes by a nearly 2 to 1 vote. [3]

2016

The Alaska Gaming Reform Act regulating charitable gaming was passed. [4]

Legalized Gambling Options in Alaska

If you’re a player in Alaska, it can be difficult to determine which games are permitted and which are not. To avoid such confusion, take time to understand the definition of gambling as per the Alaska gambling laws and use it to evaluate each game.

Most of the legalized gambling rights in Alaska are authorized to a single nonprofit organization. Some of the most popular gambling events in Alaska include the state fair’s Cabbage Guessing game and the Nenana Ice Classic. The Cabbage Guessing game is a guessing game involving vegetables. The Nenana Ice Classic is an annual lottery for guessing the minute of the river breakup on the Tanana River.

I have analyzed the following types of games to determine their legality in Alaska based on the states gambling laws:

Bingo Halls

Bingo halls are permitted and regulated by the charity gambling laws and are usually operated by charitable groups or native tribal groups.

Lottery Betting

Alaska is one of the few states without a State lottery.

Pull Tab Games

Pull Tab games are legalized and regulated and are probably the closest resemblance of a state lottery in Alaska. The pull tab games are similar to lotto scratch cards only that instead of scratching to play, there are perforated tabs that reveal a pattern of symbols that determine whether you have won.

Casino Games

Casinos are illegal and non-existent in Alaska. The state has made extra effort to frustrate any attempts by the tribal communities to get licenses and establish casinos in their tribal territories. As a result, the tribal communities are restricted to establishing and operating bingo halls and pull tab games only.

Sports Betting

Race-course betting and betting on any other sports is illegal in the state of Alaska.

Charitable groups planning to host charitable sports betting must get licenses from the state authorities. Even in such charitable events the games must be run within the guidelines of the state legislations.

Online Casinos

The state’s official position is that online casinos are covered by the existing laws. Their argument is that since there is no law explicitly permitting authorizing online casinos, then they are illegal.

Live Poker

Although poker is legal in Alaska, there have not been any poker rooms opened as of yet. The fees may be too extreme for anyone to be able to open a poker room.

Poker games which are controlled by a person or house for profit are prohibited in Alaska. There are therefore no establishment running such poker games.

Poker games played at home or in other social settings are permitted. In such situations, there must be no person, house or entity that is controlling the game and earning a profit (rake). If prosecuted by the authorities for playing poker, you would be exonerated if you can prove that it was a social game.

Online Poker

Like online casinos, there is no legislation regulating, legalizing or criminalizing online poker games. On this also, the state maintains that the lack of a clause explicitly authorizing online poker means that it is illegal.

Despite the state’s position, many residents have been playing poker online without any repercussion from the authorities.

If you are confused about the legality of any type of gambling game, be guided by the following information from Alaska Statutes 2017:

  • 11.66.280
    (3) gambling 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
  • 11.66.200
    (a) A person commits the offense of gambling if the person engages in unlawful gambling.
  • 11.66.280
    (12) unlawful means not specifically authorized by law. [5]

Poker players in Alaska have been creative

By the time Alaska was abolishing cruise ship gambling in 1995, players had already gotten used to the idea. A pattern developed whereby cruise ships would keep their gambling games were closed while in Alaskan waters. The games are then reopened once the cruise ships get into international waters. Some of the ships also continue to operate the games in Canadian shores where poker is legal and regulated.

Will Alaska Legalize Online Gambling in the Future?

At the moment, there is no talk of creation of a gambling law by either the public, local authorities or legislature. It therefore appears that the legalization or regulation of online poker or gambling in general is currently not a pertinent issue in the state of Alaska.

Furthermore, the general public appears to be in support of the status quo as demonstrated in the two previous attempts to introduce gambling laws through popular ballot. In both incidents, the votes against the motions were almost twice the votes in support. It is therefore unlikely that the citizen may cause a movement strong enough to cause the authorities to legalize gambling. The legislators are also unlikely to introduce a law to legalize gambling while it is clearly unpopular among the electorate.

Despite its large land surface area, Alaska has one of the lowest population and lowest population density in the country. As a result, the estimated potential revenue from legalization of gambling would be too low to incentivize the authorities to legalize the practice.

Although the state’s AG office has opined that online poker is illegal, no action has been taken to restrict the state residents from playing.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ 2008 Ballot Measure Establishing the Alaska Gaming Commission
  2. Jump up ^ The Legality of Online Poker in Alaska according to HB272
  3. Jump up ^ Alaska Gaming Commission
  4. Jump up ^ Charitable Gaming
  5. Jump up ^ Alaska Statuses 2017
☰ MENU