Despite the fact that Alaska was a frontier state, and therefore a state with a history of high stakes activity, compared to other states, it provides relatively few options to those who would like to gamble. Per Alaskan law, horse racing and off track betting is illegal, as are gambling devices such as slot machines, which can typically be found in casinos (in other states). Dog mushers’ contests – a traditional state and cultural activity – are allowed, as well as what can be described as cold weather contests. These contests are more linked with state culture than demand for gambling. Lotteries are also legal. All online gaming is illegal in the state.
So, It’s Illegal?
It should be noted that even when state law indicates that various forms of gambling are illegal, it specifically means that public gambling is illegal. People can socially gamble in the comfort of their own or those of friends or family. Charitable gambling is also permitted. This relates to gambling activities such as bingo that are organized by nonprofit, charitable entities such as churches, for example.
There are currently no land based casinos in the state, and the casinos that do exist are those in name only. They lack the usual types of gaming devices and activities afforded to gamblers in other states. The only gaming centers, which may be a more appropriate term compared to casinos, are owned and operated by American Indian tribes.
The Alaskan gaming centers or casinos include the following:
- Atka Ira Council
- Native Village Barrow Pull Tabs
- Tlingit and Haida Indians of CBJ Bingo
- Organized Village of Kake Bingo
- Klawok IRA Pull Tab Shoppe
- Metlakatla Indian Community Bingo
- Sitka Tribal Bingo.
Overall, the state is very strict with regard to its gambling laws and has a decidedly strict anti-gambling legislative history. There are currently no explicit laws on online gambling. However, members of the legislature have claimed that existing gambling laws can be construed to apply to online gambling sites and operations as well.
In late 2012, the legislature passed a law permitting gaming activity to be promoted on the Internet via advertising.