Alaska is a very unique state. It is located at the extreme northwest part of the United States’ West Coast. Interestingly, Alaska is actually an exclave of the United States, given that it doesn’t share any land borders with the mainland. There are about 500 miles of British Columbia (Canadian) land separating mainland US from Alaska, making the state the only non-contiguous US territory that is located in the continental North American mainland.
Alaska wasn’t always a part of the United State. In fact, it became Russian territory in 1744 and remained that way until 1867, when it was famously purchased by the US for $7.2 million. Alaska gained statehood in 1867, becoming the 49th state.
Alaska is, by any measure, a large place. At 663,000 square miles, it is by far the biggest state in the US and the seventh-largest subnational division in the world. Amazingly, however, a population of just over 700,000 makes it America’s most sparsely populated state.
Alaskans are some of the wealthiest people, on average, in the entire country. With a median household income rank just over $73,000 and an 8th position in the national rankings, the state ranks high in many wealth-related metrics. Despite its low population density, Alaska has managed to hone in on the resources that it has in abundance like crude oil, fish, and natural gas. These industries have and continue to thrive as the lifeblood of the state.
Juneau is the state’s capital city and, by land mass, is larger than Rhode Island. Alaska’s largest and most important economic city, however, is Anchorage. Most population estimates say that more than half of the entire state’s population reside within the Anchorage Metropolitan Area.
At 15%, Alaska has the highest concentration of indigenous people in the country. These tribes speak a multitude of languages, are integrated into their various communities, and participate completely in the business of politics and community leadership.
Early History of Poker and Gambling in Alaska
As you will find out later on, the history of gambling in Alaska and its current disposition have been influenced, in equal parts, by its small population and its position as a maverick US state.
Before the mid-20th century, there wasn’t much movement of any kind in the state towards the legalization of gambling. Finally, in 1960, state legislature passed laws that made the game of bingo legal in the state. This was followed by pull-tab games in 1984. The Department of Revenue was given total oversight over these games and had administrative control over their regulation.
In a bid to gain more administrative control over gaming activities in the state, the Alaskan state legislature, in 1993, passed laws that gave the government the power of oversight over third-party vendors. This move also earned the state more administrative revenue as it removed leakages in their gaming revenue stream.
The closest that Alaska has ever come to legalizing live poker was in 1995 – and it didn’t last very long. That year, the state legislature granted some cruise ships permission to offer full-scale gambling options (including poker) in Alaskan waters. These cruise operators were to pay a certain amount for the privilege and while it served as an added income source for the state government, the law was scrapped on expiry in 1996. To date, it has never been brought back.
Current State of Poker and Gambling in Alaska
The frontier state has gambling laws that are so strict, they put mainland states’ laws to shame. The staunch opposition of the state population and its government has a strong footing in its oil industry. You see, every household gets paid an annual check from the oil companies that operate in their area. This means that Alaska’s government doesn’t really need the added revenue that a casino would bring. When you combine this with the general anti-gambling sentiment shared by many of the state’s population, it becomes clear why archaic gambling laws in the state still exist.
Regulated Live Poker
Among other things, live, real-money poker is banned in the state. Attached to its very strict laws are harsh penalties that are regularly enforced. Organizers of illegal gambling activities are frequently slapped with fines and other severe punishments for breaking the law. In 2008, a proposal to introduce regulated gambling in the state was swiftly rejected by voters.
There are no commercial casinos in Alaska. For those looking to play real-money live poker, the nearest casinos to the state are actually in Canada. The nearest casino to the state is the Chances Casino in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
This might just be the only real-money gambling option available to Alaska residents. Since there are no commercial casinos and other similar gambling establishments, online is the way to go for most Alaskans. Luckily, there are few restrictions when it comes to online poker in the state, and there hasn’t been any reported case involving law enforcement and gambling websites. Most of these online platforms accept players from Alaska and give them access to the full swathe of features and poker games.
Some excellent online poker options for gamblers in Alaska are:
- Ignition Casino
- Bovada Poker
- Intertops Poker
- Americas Cardroom
- BlackChip Poker
- BetOnline Poker
From all indications, Alaska’s stance on regulated live gambling and casinos isn’t going to change anytime soon. As such, for poker lovers, online gambling is going to remain the only available gambling medium for the foreseeable future.