Alaska Gambling & Poker Laws

Alaska Gambling / Poker Laws
Alaska Legal Gambling and Poker Laws

People have been gambling on striking it rich from things like gold or oil in Alaska for decades, but when it comes to more traditional forms of casino gambling (and online gambling), Alaska actually offers fewer options than the typical state in the union.  Let's learn all there is to learn about gambling in The Last Frontier with this detailed guide to the law, the history and the future of online betting and land-based wagering in Alaska.  

Update as of 2016

This section is an updated version of the original article. While the the information on this page is correct, some new legislation might be in effect since thie page was originally written. We've left the orginal article in tact below the new information.

Alaska Gaming Reform Act of 2016

On May 26, 2016, the state of Alaska passed The Alaska Gaming Reform Act, which governs the Charitable Gaming Program and can be found at Title 5 Chapter 15 of the Alaska Statutes. The Alaska Gaming Reform Act involves the dispensing of raffle tickets from vending machines. It also defines who may conduct such gaming activities.

Under the new law, permissible charitable gaming involves raffles, Bingo, and pull-tabs. The Alaskan Tax Division also is given permission to issue permits and licenses to vendors. The Division collects taxes and fees, while it also is tasked with reviewing gaming activities periodically for compliance.

Katrina Mitchell of the Department of Revenue Tax Division said that one reason for the Gaming Reform Act was to assure that charitable gaming would "go green". Using a service called "Revenue Online", the sale of bingo, lottery, and pull-tabs would become more of an online operation, with the elimination of paper records.

Senate Bill 157

SB 157 was signed into law by Governor Bill Walker on May 17, 2016. This bill "clarifies that restaurants and other venues featuring arcade-style amusement games may lawfully operate". The popular arcade-style restaurant chain, Dave & Buster's, wanted to expand into Juneau, but it was concerned whether its games would be considered gambling. SB 157 clarified that such gaming is not gambling, thus clearing the way for Dave & Buster's to open a restaurant which would create 200 construction jobs and 160 permanent jobs in the arcade.

Online Poker in Alaska

Poker players from across the United States have developed a strong interest in online poker, and Alaskans are no different.  In fact, legal online poker is an especially appealing option for poker players from Alaska, who lack access to commercial casinos or other convenient ways to play real-money poker games.

Recommended Legal Alaska Online Poker Sites

Alaskans face few restrictions when it comes to choosing a poker site online.  Our picks for the top poker site accepting players from Alaska offer the biggest bonuses and the most valuable VIP programs:

Can Alaskan Poker Players Play Online?

If you live in Alaska and want to play legal and regulated online poker, you shouldn't have a problem - all sites that take US players also welcome poker players who hail from Alaska.  While players from some states in the US (such as Maryland) do have limited choices, Alaska doesn't face any such restrictions - meaning that Alaskan poker players can choose from the complete range of real money online poker sites operating legally in their jurisdiction.

Online Poker and Alaska Law

The general focus of gambling law in Alaska is to punish the people who run the game, not the people who take part in it.  It's important to note, however, the the law regarding gambling in Alaska is very broad and could be interpreted a number of ways.

Here a a few relevant aspects of Alaska code that could pertain to online gambling:

  1. It is a crime (Section 11.66.200) to engage in "unlawful gambling," which is defined as any gambling not explicitly made legal by act of law.  Your first offense is a violation, subsequent offenses are class B misdemeanor.  
  2. "Gambling" is defined in Section 11.66.280 as "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."  By most accounts, poker would fall under this definition if played for real money.
  3. Social gambling is exempt from the otherwise strict gambling laws in Alaska.  The state also employs a somewhat specific definition of what can be considered a "social game."  Section 11.66.280(9) defines it 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".
  4. Nothing in the Alaska code at the time of this article makes specific reference to online gambling or online poker.

Whenever you talk about gambling, you're immediately talking about an issue that could potentially have legal repercussions.  For that reason, it's imperative that poker players from Alaska review Alaska gambling law [1] personally and seek qualified legal advice before engaging in any behavior that could bring consequences.

Will Alaska Regulate Online Poker?

There have been a dozen or so states that have tossed around in national discussions regarding the regulation of online gambling.  Alaska does not appear on that list.  There have been no serious public discussions regarding online gambling, so (barring some major change of events) it appears quite unlikely that poker players from Alaska will be able to play state-regulated online poker.

Alaska Gambling Facts

History of Gambling in Alaska

Alaska has long been a stalwart opponent of nearly all forms of gambling.  The one notable exception: A number of annual contests surrounding a variety of outdoors activities such as dog-mushing and fishing.   Those few outliers aside, Alaska has a consistent history of opposing attempts to expand regulated gambling in the state.

For example, in 2008 voters rejected a proposal to introduce regulated gambling facilities [2] by a nearly 2-1 margin.  A long-running attempt by native groups to establish a gambling presence in the state has yielded only minor progress to date.

Regulated Gambling Options in Alaska

You'll be quite short on options if you're looking to participate in gambling specifically sanctioned by the state in Alaska.  There's no state lottery - Alaska is one of only 7 US states that has resisted the wave of state-run lotto games.  There aren't any commercial casinos, and tribal operations appear limited to a handful of bingo halls.  As you may have guess, there are also no regulated ways to bet on horses or sports in the state of Alaska.  

The one avenue gamblers have in Alaska is charitable gambling, which is permitted in various forms by the state. 

Does Alaska Offer any Regulated Online Gambling?

It probably won't surprise many readers to learn that the state of Alaska does not provide any state-run online gambling options to residents or visitors.  As discussed earlier in this guide to Alaskan gambling, there doesn't seem to be any interest on the part of the state (or voters) to pursue regulation of online gambling, so the status quo is likely to persist unabated.

Recent Alaska Gambling Headlines

Alaska was the source of some curious gambling news in October of 2012, when police arrested 5 individuals [3] in connection with a so-called "paycheck poker" operation.  Paycheck poker is effectively a raffle and bears no connection to the actual game of poker.

Alaska Gambling Resources

Alaska Gambling Law (FindLaw) [4]This pocket guide to Alaska gambling law is a handy bookmark for players who want a quick reference to the basic laws in Alaska regarding gambling and online poker.

Alaska Department of Revenue Tax Division [5].  Resource for forms and permits required to operate regulated gambling activities in the state of Alaska.  Also contains basic tax information regarding such activities.

Alaska and Poker

While Alaska might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think poker, there are regular connections between the game and the state.  Perry Green (a three-time WSOP bracelet winner and two-time Main Event finalist) is arguably the most famous poker player from Alaska, although native son Greg Hobson has been in the news more recently [6] thanks to his win in the 2012 WSOP ante-only event. 

Interestingly enough, one player who isn't from Alaska even though many he assume he is: Paul "Eskimo" Clark [7], who actually hails from the far more temperate climate of Louisiana.

Sources & Citations For This Article on Alaska Online Poker