In a state where, if reality television is to be believed, life itself is a gamble, you’d think that Alaska would be keen or tolerant of the idea of gambling, let alone gambling online. The Last Frontier, a favorite for crab fisherman, gold miners, and those that wish to live off the grid, has remarkably few avenues for inhabitants to place a wager.
In fact, Alaska is one of the least friendly states to gambling in the union. While it doesn’t quite rise to the level of gambling-hating co-champions Utah and Hawaii, it is probably in the top 10. There are no casinos, no racetracks, no lottery, and very little else worthy of betting. It’s not immediately clear how much of the prohibition is steeped in the practical and logistical aspects of the state. Alaska’s immense size and low population mean that there are few population centers available for enterprising casino companies to address.
And even though online gambling in Alaska could work in such a large, open state, it too has been shunned for years. The good news is that you’re here, and we’re here to keep you informed. We keep track of every gambling development in Alaska, and you can always find out the latest if you click over to us. So, sit back, and read on for all the latest news and information about gambling in Alaska.
Play online slots and poker in Alaska
Can you gamble online in Alaska?
The answer is almost a definitive no. There cannot be online gambling sites that legitimately offer betting options to Alaska inhabitants. There are no online casinos and no poker sites for Alaskans to play. Online sportsbooks in Alaska are also not a thing. There isn’t even a state lottery, retail or online, and you cannot place a bet on a horse or greyhound race, which stinks, but there aren’t any live tracks in the state either.
Of course, we said that it’s almost a definitive no. There are a few games that you can play online in Alaska. The most prominent is daily fantasy sports (DFS). For the moment, you can play on any of the major DFS sites wherever there’s an internet connection in Alaska. DraftKings, FanDuel, and the rest of the big players all accept customers from The Last Frontier at this time. However, lest you be misled, understand that there is no law specifically addressing DFS, either positively or negatively.
The other major option for gambling-type games in Alaska are sweepstakes casinos. Sweepstakes casinos, like other sweepstakes sites, operate with a very specific business model that allows them to remain in the good graces of the law.
Are online casinos legal in Alaska?
No. As is the case for almost every type of gambling, online casinos in Alaska are not a permissible form of activity. Although it’s not immediately clear if any kind of enforcement is targeting online casino players, you could conceivably find yourself under investigation and subject to fines or jail time if you are caught playing on an online casino in Alaska.
Your best options are Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots, and Funzpoints. All three of these sites are sweepstakes casinos. Chumba and Luckyland are sister sites and use the same currencies, Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins. Funzpoints uses Funzpoints and Premium Funzpoints as its two objects of exchange. In any case, these sites each offer an array of games for you to play. These titles will be no different than the ones you find through actual online casinos, albeit with different titles and branding. Chumba has several table games options to try, in case you prefer to play blackjack, roulette, or Caribbean Stud. Finally, if you’d like to play keno online, Funzpoints does have a couple of keno variants to explore.
Can you play slots online in Alaska?
No, not at all. Online slots are a major portion of most online casinos, and since there are no online casinos, there cannot be online slots.
The only options that you have are the ones mentioned above. The sweepstakes sites, like Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots, and Funzpoints, have hundreds of different slot titles available for play. These slots function as smoothly and sleekly as the ones you’d find on a true online casino. However, you may not see any brand names that you recognize from IGT or Bally’s or NetEnt — those are usually reserved for the true slot games.
Can you play online poker in Alaska?
Obviously not. As is the case with other types of online gambling, there are no online poker sites available in the state of Alaska. If you see sites saying something to the contrary, they’re mistaken — at best.
The only option for poker players in Alaska to play through their devices is through a sweepstakes poker site. Although there may be others out there worth exploring, Global Poker is the top of the heap. Global offers action 24 hours a day for no-limit Texas hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and, oddly enough, Crazy Pineapple. You can find cash games, tournaments, and sit-n-gos with fellow Americans, and the site itself is quite smartly realized. Like its sister sites Chumba and Luckyland, Global uses the Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins currencies. Make sure to try out the software with Gold Coins before you move over to the Sweeps games.
Will Alaska regulate online gambling in the future?
If it will, it won’t be for a while. Unlike some other states, Alaska has not shown that it has a terrific appetite for reinventing itself as a gambling state yet. In 2020, lawmakers introduced twin bills at the request of Gov. Mike Dunleavy that would’ve established both a state lottery and sports betting in the Last Frontier, but neither measure made it out of committee. More recently, a 2021 bill that would have just created the lottery was withdrawn by its sponsor two months after its introduction. At present, there are no significant movements to expand gambling in Alaska.
The only argument to be made is that if a gambling expansion does come to Alaska, it would be extremely unwise to limit the expansion to retail spaces only. Alaska’s land area is unrivaled as far as states go, with more space than Texas, California, and Montana combined (the next three largest states by land area). There are towns 1,100+ miles apart in the same state, and most cities are at least a few hours apart. If there is to be gambling in Alaska sometime in the future, it is almost certain that it must be online.
Legal online gambling vs. offshore sites
Now, the information we just gave you about the available online gambling sites in Alaska might not make much sense to you. A search on the internet reveals a very different story. Many different websites claim that there are a host of sites ready to accept wagers from Alaskans. So, why are we saying otherwise?
Well, for one thing, we cannot recommend that you commit a crime. Alaska defines a gambling offense as follows:
“A person commits the offense of gambling if the person engages in unlawful gambling.”
Furthermore, the statute defines “unlawful” as anything not specifically mentioned as legal. In other words, the default position about gambling in Alaska is that it’s against the law, and any methods in which you can do so are almost always defined as mere defenses against prosecution. So, although sites might claim that there’s nothing specific in Alaska’s law saying you can’t gamble online, it really wouldn’t take much creativity on the part of a district attorney or attorney general to think otherwise.
Unfortunately, every site that you can find for playing gambling games in Alaska is based outside of the US, and is not subject to the US legal system. Therefore, they come with several risks. If something were to go wrong between you and one of these sites, you might have very few options available for getting any kind of help. The site may advertise that it has a regulator or some other kind of oversight, but you can never be sure about how fair or effective these bodies are.
Another thing that you cannot be certain about is the level of security that these sites use to encrypt their actions and protect users’ information. Online casinos and poker rooms require you to submit your most personal details, including your banking or credit card information. Without any kind of understanding of their network security or recourse, if things go wrong, you are taking an awful risk by giving this information to the world at large.
It is undoubtedly disappointing that you cannot play from your home in Alaska. However, in this case, it is better to be safe. Otherwise, you might find yourself unacceptably sorry.
Who regulates online gambling in Alaska?
Obviously, no one, since online gambling is illegal in Alaska. However, if Alaska were to legalize some manner of online gambling, the most likely regulator would be the Alaska Lottery Commission. Now, that statement might give you a bit of pause, since the Alaska Lottery Commission does not actually exist at this time. However, the last few attempts that Last Frontier lawmakers have made toward legalizing a new form of gambling (sports betting, for what it’s worth) have indicated a desire to create the Alaska Lottery and give it jurisdiction over the new industry. Since lottery commissions are fairly commonly employed as de facto gaming commissions in other states, it stands to reason that Alaska might do the same thing.
The other option for regulating hypothetical online gambling in Alaska is the Alaska Department of Revenue. Specifically, the regulator might be the Tax Division of the department. To install this agency as the regulator would be quite odd, but since this portion of the state government oversees charitable gaming, the only type of legal gambling in Alaska, it’s conceivable that any further gambling expansion would fall to it, too. However, it is far more likely that a new regulatory body would be necessary to manage a new gambling industry in Alaska.
What is the legal gambling age in Alaska?
19. For the very small amount of gambling that you can do in Alaska — namely, bingo — you must be 19 years or older to play. Furthermore, you must be 21 in order to play pull tab games while you play bingo. In terms of hypotheticals, the most recent bills to be proposed in the Alaska Legislature have designated the activities to be available to those 18 or older. This rule appears to have covered the proposal for sports betting, too, which would have made Alaska one of the few places that allowed 18-year-olds to bet on sports.
However, there is no real precedent in Alaska for what age would be necessary for casino play. The only type of casino action even available in Alaska is via casino cruises. Those cruises, operated by independent companies, allow their casinos to run while in international waters and require patrons to be 21. Since there are very few places in the US where the gambling age is less than 21, it seems like a good bet that any major expansion in Alaska would bear the same requirement.
Types of legal gambling in Alaska
If you haven’t guessed by now, there aren’t very many ways to gamble legally in Alaska. Alaska stops just short of Utah and Hawaii in terms of its lack of gambling. There are no casinos of any type, no racetracks, and no lottery. Were it not for the few bingo halls in the Last Frontier, Alaska would be the third member of the no-gambling-at-all states. As it stands, here are the ways to gamble legally in Alaska:
- Charitable bingo and raffles
- Home poker games
- Cruise ships with casinos onboard
The third way to gamble is not even technically in Alaska. Cruises offer casino gambling when they are in international waters and shut their facilities the second they cross into Alaskan territory. However, since so many cruises come to Alaska, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the limited gambling onboard as a viable option for Alaskan gamblers. Of course, we’d also question your decision-making if you are a gambler living in Alaska.
Are there casinos in Alaska?
No. There are no casinos of any type in Alaska. There are also no racetracks or off-track betting options in Alaska. For fans of live gambling, the notion of whether the gambling scene or the weather in Alaska is bleaker is a difficult question to answer.
What is fascinating about this situation, however, is the fact that there are no tribal casinos in Alaska. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, there are 229 federally recognized Native American tribes that call Alaska home. No other state has anywhere near as many distinct tribal entities — Alaska, by itself, contains nearly 40% of the tribes granted recognition. There isn’t a ton of reservation land — only one reservation in the state — but many village areas in Alaska are designated as tribal.
The ability to found tribal casinos on federally-recognized tribal lands stems from the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. Tribes that qualify can negotiate compacts with their state governments to operate casinos or other gambling venues on tribal lands. Although it is up to the states if they want to negotiate, most of them do. Even gambling-hostile states like North Carolina and Texas have allowed tribal casinos to be built. So, the fact that Alaska has so many opportunities to allow tribal casinos to be constructed and has refused to do so speaks to the depth of Alaska’s commitment to keep gambling out of the state.
One of the unfortunate realities of humans and gambling is that some people take things too far. Wherever there is gambling, there is problem gambling and gambling addiction. Even in locations that do not authorize gambling, there is gambling, and there is a need for responsible gambling resources.
Unfortunately, Alaska is one of a handful of states that does not allocate any funds toward treating problem gambling. Responsible gambling initiatives in the state are mostly relegated to the typical support groups that are usually ancillary to responsible gambling initiatives in most states. Furthermore, Alaska’s remoteness and lack of population density makes finding official meetings for Gamblers Anonymous and GAM-ANON a bit more difficult than usual.
So, the best resource for Alaskans who are struggling with problem gambling is GAM-TALK. GAM-TALK is an online community forum with a similar mission to Gamblers Anonymous, where fellow sufferers are united to support each other in their recovery. If you are dealing with problem gambling issues in Alaska, GAM-TALK might be the first place to try. There is a weekly meeting in Anchorage for GA.
Finally, you can always reach out to the National Problem Gambling Helpline at any time. The number is 1-800-522-4700, and there are trained counselors standing by. It’s not immediately clear what resources and therapy options are available in Alaska, but if anyone would know where to go, the folks on the helpline would.