Gambling in Alaska

Most citizens of the United States don’t know too much about the great state of Alaska. In fact, Alaska is the largest state out of all fifty. Most might consider the largest state to be in terms of population, but this is in terms of square miles. The state is home to just about one million people, so as you can see there are very few people per mile, being the least densely populated state of the United States.

Alaska is majorly known for its cold temperatures and beauty, and it has an exotic flair associated to its distance from the Continental country, as well as because it was relatively recently added to the US, in 1959, being formerly a Russian territory. The capital is Juneau and Anchorage is the largest city.

Gambling History and Scenario

Alaska gambling is far from being huge, reflecting conservative politics from the state and a population that doesn’t demand more gambling opportunities. The oil revenues make the local politicians happy, so they don’t need a gambling industry.

Even so, in 1960 the first form of legal gambling was approved in the format of Bingo, being overseen by the Department of Revenue. It took Alaska another 24 years to approve pull-tab games, in 1984.

In 1993 HB 168 was approved and changed the gambling scenario in the state, especially the charitable gaming panorama. This law allowed third-party vendors to sell the pull-tabs directly to the people and increased the payments from 15 to 30%.

Cruise ship gambling was legalized in 1995, generating over $500.000 in the single year it was active, but it was never reactivated again. In 1996 three new pull-tab games were approved, with the twist that they are electronic and act pretty much like slots machines or video poker.

Also in 1996, the state makes illegal the donation of funds originated by bingo and pull tabs to political organizations or lobbies.

As we can see from this above scenario, Alaska doesn’t have any casino in the traditional Vegas-style, even if there were some attempts over the years to do it, namely in 1987 by “Mafia Mike”. In 1990 the population voted to approve a state gambling board, but the measure failed by a large distance.

In 1993, the construction of a casino in Klawock was actually approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission, but the state was fast to approve a law banning dice, wheel and card games in the state, transforming the project in a Pull Tabs casino under the name of Klawock IRA Pull Tabs. Eagle River Bingo & Casino is another of the 10 casinos we can find in Alaska.

More recently, in 2003, the amendment HB240 was rejected, rejecting, therefore, the state lottery, despite a favorable public opinion, and in 2008 the legalization of gambling was again rejected by popular vote.

Types of Gambling found in Alaska

Gaming in Alaska can be somewhat hard to find as there are very few big cities with casinos like the ones found in Las Vegas or New Jersey. In Alaska, you will find Native American Casinos throughout the state. Most of the casinos found here are on the smaller side, but you will find some that include all of the gaming types.

The state of Alaska allows players to utilize slot machines and other games for play at age 18. However, a select few of the casinos have their age limit set to 21. Players within the state will find the following casinos; Tlingit and Haida Indians of CBJ bingo, Sitka Tribal Bingo, Organized Village of Kake Bingo, Klawock IRA Pull Tabs Shoppe, & Native Village Barrow Pull Tabs to name a few.

The difference between Alaskan casinos and your typical land-based casino is the fact that the venues here will sometimes only feature bingo or pull-tab style games. Also, on the list of differences is the fact that this state does not offer an official lottery game to state residents.

Gambling in the state is legal only under the format of a charitable institution or a location with a license for betting, so most traditional casino games are illegal, including poker. As alternatives to this scenario, for those living in the south of the state, you have Canada, as Chances Casino is at just 50 miles from Ketchikan.