Alaska Online Poker / Gambling Laws

Alaska Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Alaska?

All forms of gambling law in Alaska are a bit of a headache. Wrapping your brain around the complexities of gaming laws in our northernmost state practically requires a degree in law.

There are no actual casinos in Alaska, thanks to a library of laws and regulations that a gaming provider has to deal with. Legalizing any kind of gambling in Alaska, even the pull-tab games and raffles that have been legalized, requires an official request to the State House, which as you can imagine takes time and lots of paperwork. The State House then has to create a bill to legalize each form of gambling, hold floor discussions and debate, and deal with state revenue issues before even voting on the bill.

No form of gambling in Alaska exists legally without a specific permit from the State House. Alaska State House bill 05.15.180 specifically outlaws “ . . . cards, dice, roulette wheels, coin-operated instruments or machines, or other objects or instruments used, designed, or intended primarily for gaming or gambling or any other method or implement not expressly authorized by the Department of Revenue.” That’s a fairly leak-proof piece of legislation, and one of the toughest in the USA.

The trend in Alaska had been to disallow all casinos and gambling options altogether. Any attempts to legalize poker or even state lottery games had been rebuffed going back several decades. But big changes are coming to our frigid neighbors to the north.

Changes to Alaska Poker Law

In May of 2005, the State House changed their mind and voted to legalize poker, bridge, rummy, and cribbage. This sudden change in policy has something to do with dwindling state revenue and something to do with cultural changes in the state. What this law means is that casinos have a foot in the door in Alaska, and Alaskans and tourists to Alaska may soon have greater access to poker and other games.

Alaska Legal Poker Laws

Article 2 (titled “Gambling Offenses”) in Chapter 66 of the state law declares “ . . . it is an offense to engage in unlawful gambling.” However, this same law declares that this law is an "affirmative defense" bill, meaning it is up to the state to prove their case, and not up to the gambler to defend themselves from prosecution. Defense against gambling law follows other state trends, requiring the government to prove that a game was not a "social game" in order for it to be a criminal offense.

In Alaska, a social game is defined in state law as “ . . . gambling in a home where no house player (barring craps and other home casino games), no house bank, and no house odds exist, and where there is no house rake from the operation of the game.” That means if you follow a few simple rules, gambling in your private home is a perfect defense against being charged with illegal gambling.

Learn About Other State Laws

Can You Play Poker & Online Poker in Alaska Legally?

The legalization of poker in 2005 is a huge step towards allowing casinos and poker rooms to open in the The Last Frontier. Alaskans will soon see legal poker rooms opening, as soon as the complex system of bureaucracy deals with petitions to open such rooms. The state government knows that legal gambling will add money to their coffers, and like every state in America, they need an injection of cash. As has been the case throughout American history, a need for cash has basically led to legalizing poker rooms inside state lines.

But there are still very precise guidelines that poker rooms will have to follow before they start offering card games. First, a gambling provider will have to pay a hefty application fee of $25,000, on top of an ongoing license fee of $10,000 each year per poker or card game table. All that means is that the only card rooms and casinos that will open in Alaska are the big boys in the industry that can afford such high fees.
If you live in Alaska and want to see more poker opportunities in the state, it is up to you and others like you to petition for more options for play. As long as the Alaskan government sees your venture as profitable for the state, they’ll be highly likely to allow the room to open. The long and short of it is that poker rooms are now legal in Alaska, although there are strict guidelines they must follow and heavy fees to pay to provide poker and card gaming.

Learn more about the law and how it relates to gambling in the state of Alaska here: