Charity Gaming 1960
Tribal Casinos 1986
Tribal Casinos 19 years+
Charity Bingo 19 years+
Tribal Casinos 2
Known as ‘The Last Frontier,’ Alaska is heavily oil-dependent (85% of its budget). A relatively small population of 730,000+ would make the impact from allowing gambling in Alaska relatively tiny. This may be why past politicians and voters had been reluctant to legalize gambling in the state so far.
Still, with oil prices low by historical benchmarks, the decline in oil revenue has led some to look to gambling to plug some of the state’s budget shortfall.
Charitable organizations and municipalities can legally provide bingo, dog sledding, lotteries, and raffles. Native organizations may also legally provide bingo and pull tabs. Of these, just two meet the legal definition of Class II Tribal Casinos.
Commercial casinos are not legal in Alaska. Nor are pari-mutuel betting, sports betting, poker rooms, and online gambling. Lotteries are also illegal in Alaska, one of just five states to prohibit the activity alongside Nevada, Hawaii, Utah, and Alabama.
Permitted charity gaming includes bingo, pull tabs, lotteries, dog sledding, and raffles. Some bingo halls enhance the player-experience with cafes where patrons can munch on deli meats or a burger and fries.
Charity gaming in Alaska requires an annual license and must be run by a municipality or qualified non-profit organization. In Alaska, tribal organizations are permitted to offer bingo and pull tabs/video pull tabs that benefit their community.
Alaska has two Class II Tribal Casinos offering bingo and pull tabs. Each casino is authorized by the Federal National Gaming Commission (NIGC) under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1986. Generated proceeds must be used to fund tribal programs, charities, economic development and local government agencies.
|Metlakatla Bingo Hall||Western Ave, Metlakatla, AK 99926||n/a|
|Klawock Bingo||Klawock, AK 99925||n/a|
The Alaska State Legislature defines gambling as follows. “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.”
Alaska has the most restrictive gambling laws in the country, allowing only charity gaming that falls under the Department of Revenue’s watch. There are two tribal casinos, but they may only offer bingo and pull tabs.
In 2020, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy pitched a proposal to the Senate Rules Committee (SB 188) to legalize sports betting and a state and multi-state lottery. Unfortunately, the legislative session ended early due to the COVID pandemic, so it remains to be seen whether the bill will be back on the table in 2021.
Fantasy sports are available in the state of Alaska from several providers. The justification used is that it is a skill-game rather than chance game that falls outside of the definition of gambling. However, this appears to be a grey area.
In the early 1960s, charitable gaming laws in Alaska were evolving to allow qualified non-profit organizations and municipalities to conduct gaming activities. These laws are set out in the Alaska Gaming Reform Act and must generate a public financial benefit. Pull-tabs were authorized in 1984.
Cruise ship gambling in Alaskan waters was legalized in 1995. However, it was allowed to expire the following year and was never re-enacted.
Attempts in the past to liberalize gambling have been unsuccessful. On August 28, 1990, an initiative to create the Alaska Gambling Board was defeated in a referendum, 19,827 to 50,446.
In 1996, the Alaska Legislature legalized Deep Freeze Classic, Sled Dog Race Classic, and Snow Machine Classic. It also created the Creamer’s Field Goose Classic and the McGrath Kuskokwim River Ice Classic.
In 2003, HB240, an amendment to create a state lottery, was rejected. Later that same year, a proposal to allow video poker was also turned down.
In 2008, there were several statewide votes to expand legal gambling, which ultimately failed. The argument for rejecting it was that it was not needed because of the wealth generated by oil revenue.
In 2009 an Alaskan state lottery was held with the proceeds going towards the organization Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), located in Anchorage. It was the only one of its kind. In an ironic twist, the winner of the $500,000 prize was a convicted sex offender. This man would go on to be assaulted with a tire iron just a few days later.
In 2014, bull moose derbies and Snow Town Ice Classic were added, falling under legally-defined ice classic.
Yes, Alaska has two federally-recognized Indian tribal organizations allowed to offer bingo and pull tabs only. There are also non-casino bingo halls run by tribal organizations.
No, commercial casinos have not been legalized in the state of Alaska.
No, at the present time, lotteries and interstate lotteries are not legal in Alaska. However, in 2020 the governor pitched a bill to legalize lotteries before the Alaskan Legislature was forced to close early.
No, sports betting is not permitted in Alaska. However, a proposal to legalize sports betting was introduced in 2020 before the Legislature was forced to close prematurely.
Legally, charity gaming offering bingo, pull tabs, dog sledding, and raffles are legal. Tribal casinos may offer pull tabs and bingo only.
No, at the present time, there are no online legal forms of gambling. Although fantasy sports/daily fantasy sports are available, it remains somewhat of a grey area.