Home » US Poker Laws » State Laws » Alaska Poker Laws
Relevant state code: 11.66.200; 05.15.680
The 49th state to enter the United States takes a fairly strict stance toward gambling when compared with some of its counterparts. Many types of gambling face significant restrictions in the state of Alaska and that includes online poker. At the center of those restrictions is what could be classified as a broad definition of exactly what constitutes gambling under state law:
"gambling" means that a person stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the person's control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that that person or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome;
Exceptions to this definition include legal business transactions such as insurance, amusement devices that do not reward anything of value except the right to play the game again and activities expressly authorized by the Alaska Department of Revenue.
Alaska does not allow wagering on horse racing or dog racing, with the exception of dog musher's contests. Alaska does allow wagering on a specific list of skill-based contests. There are no legal casinos in the state of Alaska and gambling devices are expressly criminalized by state law. Alaska law allows for potentially severe penalties for anyone who "promotes or profits from unlawful gambling" in the state.
Individual gamblers have little to fear from Alaska law. First, "social gaming" is allowed under Alaska state law. Basically, any game that takes place within the home and does not have a "house" or "banker" is likely legal in Alaska. The official definition:
"social game" means gambling in a home where no house player, house bank, or house odds exist and where there is no house income from the operation of the game;
Second, the law is clearly designed to punish operators and allows multiple points of defense for individuals who are merely participants in a game involving gambling, especially if the game could be considered a social game.
Alaska does allow limited charitable gambling.
Poker and Alaskan Law - Is it Legal To Play Poker in Alaska
Poker is considered illegal gambling under Alaska state law, although social games of poker are allowed. Alaska employs the "material degree" test for determining whether an activity is a game of chance or a game of skill, meaning that chance need to only play a material role in a game - and not a dominant one - for the game to be considered a game of chance.
Operating a poker game for any sort of profit or consideration is likely illegal in Alaska. Participating in a poker game may be illegal under certain circumstances, but generally seems to be tolerated, if not explicitly permitted, by Alaska law. What does this mean? It means, that it is legal to play poker in Alaska in your own home, so long as you don't take a cut or share.
Does Alaska Have Online Poker Laws? Is it Legal To Gamble Online?
Alaska law does not specifically address online gambling or online poker. As with most states, it is conceivable that current Alaskan law originally designed to apply to land-based gambling could be applied to online gambling. Furthermore, the Alaska Attorney General issued an opinion in 2001 concluding that wagering on computer games constituted illegal gambling, an opinion that could easily be read to apply to online poker. With that said, we could not find any instance of an online gambling-related indictment or prosecution in Alaska related to playing poker online illegally.
Alaska Gambling Law - Interesting Facts
While horse racing is not allowed in Alaska, it is apparently legal to place a hamster (or other animal) in a maze with several numbered exits and wager on which exit the animal will choose. This exception is one of many exemptions from compliance with state gambling laws granted to traditional Alaskan events..
Alaska Online Gambling Law in the News
Alaska has made no public move to embrace or outlaw online gambling. Our research did not locate any public opinion issued by any officeholders in Alaska regarding the issue of online gambling.
Will Alaska Regulate Online Poker?
Alaska would likely have limited potential as an online poker market. The size of the population is just a shade of 700,000 and the state is one of the worst-ranking when it comes to broadband Internet penetration. While Alaska could potentially participate in some sort of interstate poker compact, the current attitude of the state toward gambling in general taken in combination with the poor market conditions and lack of apparent interest on the part of elected officials leaves the potential for any sort of intrastate initiative well north of unlikely.