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Gambling Legislation in Alaska

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Alaska may be the largest state in the United States in terms of total land area, but despite the number of native tribal governments in the state, there is still limited room for gambling. Several tribes have attempted to establish gaming areas to no avail, as it is met with strong opposition. In 1990, an initiative was placed in the ballot asking permission for casino games with limited stakes to operate in taverns and bars. Forty percent approved while sixty percent of the population disagreed, effectively defeating the initiative.

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In Alaska, gambling is defined as staking something valuable on a possible outcome of contests that involves chance or an event in future that is uncontrollable by the person making the wager. Such definition can easily encompass several forms of accepted gambling.

Based on Alaska Statutes then, horse racing or off-track betting is prohibited. Most casino-type games and "gambling devices" are also banned. The inclusions of gambling devices means that the owning of slots machines is also illegal in the state. Only antique machines or those at least 25 years old may be owned by residents. Gambling devices, as defined (devices used in any phase of gambling deemed unlawful, regardless if it is used among several people or just one), may also encompass players using personal computers playing in online casinos. However, since there is no expressed prohibition against Internet gambling, it is best to contact a local lawyer before attempting to play online.

Another thing to point out is that the statutes also mention that playing in a social game can be constituted as affirmative defense. This means one can play poker with buddies as long as the chips do not become real money.

Despite a majority of games being banned, a few activities are still allowed by the state through the Alaska Charitable Gambling Provisions. Such games include bingo and pull tabs. Pull tab cards have a concealed pattern of number or symbols in which a person is awarded a prize if he gets a card with a predefined set of number or symbols. Bingo sessions are also limited per month, and there is also a maximum number of games session.

There are also a number of legal games that are unique in this part of the country and are very popular among residents. One of them is the ice classic, where players guess the exact time and date of when the ice on a certain body starts to break, signaling the beginning of spring. Another interesting game is called the canned salmon classic where the exact number of canned salmon cases being packed at a specific date is guessed by participants. And though horse racing is prohibited, forms of dog mushers contests are allowed. In the contest players guess the time a dog team finishes or its actual position from the race. A different version may involve guessing at least three elements of uncertainty about the dog sled race, of which those uncertainties cannot be determined before the start of the race.

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