Gambling laws in the Last Frontier are very restrictive.
If you're looking to play a slot machine or casino table game in Alaska, you can forget about it. Place a bet on an NFL game at a sports book? Nope, not here. How about a ticket for the national lottery game Powerball? Sorry, try again.
Alaska, the 49th U.S. state which is northwest of Canada, has a few "casinos" on Native American reservations, but gambling devices (such as slot machines) are otherwise banned.
The state also prohibits horse racing while allowing "dog mushers" contests and other games closely associated with the environment and culture of Alaska. Social gambling in one's private residence is allowed.
Lawmakers seem satisfied with the status quo and Native tribes have yet to find any new legal avenues to create formal casinos or sports books on their lands.
Betting Laws in Alaska
Almost 750,000 people live in the state of Alaska, which is the largest state in land mass in the U.S. and twice the size of Texas, the next biggest state. Juneau is the capital, while Anchorage is the largest city with a population of almost 300,000 residents.
Alaska gambling laws — whether it's pull tabs at Eagle River Casino or bingo at Alaska Bingo Center — are regulated at the state level.
All legalized gambling within Alaska is limited to the following areas:
- Tribal gambling
- Pull tabs
- Dog mushing
- Social in-home gambling
- Charitable gambling
Players must be at least 19 years old to gamble at a land-based facility in Alaska.
There are no licensed casinos in Alaska, and even the few tribal establishments are restricted to bingo and pull tab games, which are paper-based lotto type cards. You pull open perforated tabs to reveal symbols that determine your prize — like a lower tech version of a scratch card.
Cruise ships are already big business in this state, especially during the summer months. Many residents also enjoy these cruises for reasons other than sightseeing. Once in international waters or Canadian territory, onboard casinos open up including slots halls and table games.
Dog mushing is considered the state sport of Alaska, and it consists of dogs, usually huskies, pulling people on a sled through a long course.
The state's charity gambling legislation does allow some sports gambling opportunities. For example, you can guess the timing of dog-mushing (sled race) contests, with the closest guess winning a prize — or bet on salmon fishing contests.
Powerball tickets aren’t for sale in every state. Specifically, six states — Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah — don’t have state lotteries, and therefore don’t sell tickets for Powerball or any other multi-state lottery games.
Chase the Ace is a lottery run in Alaska for the benefit of local non-profit organizations. The ticket sales are divided between cash prizes and the organization — 20 per cent to weekly prize, 30 per cent to jackpot and 50 per cent to the non-profits.
The weekly prize winner receives a cash prize along with a pick off of the Chase the Ace board. If the winner finds the ace of spades, they win the jackpot.
Daily fantasy betting
Daily fantasy sports are currently governed by a 2001 attorney general decision that cited a completely unrelated pay-to-play golf game, which the state ruled was illegal gambling. There is no legislation to legalize daily fantasy sports in the state or clarify its position.
Alaska Sports Betting Laws
The Supreme Court cleared the way in May 2018 for states to legalize sports betting, striking down a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from authorizing sports betting. But this form of gambling doesn’t appear to be on the radar in Alaska. No bills were filed in 2018 and none have been pre-filed ahead of the 2019 session.
Austin Baird, a spokesperson for the governor's office, said:
"there has been no legislative activity on this issue in Alaska."
If an Alaskan resident wants to bet on their favorite team, a seven-hour flight from Anchorage to Las Vegas is one option. Or, they can join the most popular online gaming site in Bovada.
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Alaska's Favorite Sports Teams
There are no major sports teams in the Frontier State, namely because of the drastic weather conditions and distance from other markets.
Alaska does have a hockey team from East Coast Hockey League as the Alaskan Aces play out of Anchorage.
There's also summer league baseball in Anchorage, which has teams like the Anchorage Glacier Pilots and the Anchorage Bucs.
The biggest sporting event in Alaska is like no other in the world of sports. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual long distance sled dog race run in early March from Anchorage to Nome. The Iditarod began in 1973 as an event to test the best sled dog mushers and teams but evolved into today's highly competitive race.