Alaska Online Poker Laws

Alaska Online Poker Law

Maybe nowhere in the United States would online poker’s legalization be more useful to citizens than in Alaska, where some towns are so isolated they depend on airstrips instead of interchanges. What could be better than filling an inside straight on the river all snug in front of a popping fire during one of those freezing Alaskan nights?

But alas, Alaska is still one of seven states that doesn’t even have a state lottery.

Recent ballot measures to expand several forms of gambling — including multi-state gambling, which certainly would have included online poker — have failed.

In 2005 and 2006, a push to legalize “video lottery” failed to even reach the ballot. In 2005, state voters rejected an initiative that would’ve created a seven-member gaming commission. If passed, the commission would’ve been allowed to authorize games of chance and casino games.

The commission also would’ve had the authority to contract with other states for multi-state gaming. This is the intriguing point, especially for American online poker players -- a group that will directly benefit from larger player pools.

Unfortunately, the initiative failed by a margin of 1.5 to 1.

But that doesn’t mean residents aren’t actively calling for well-organized and regulated online poker to be released from the depths of the murky Alaskan gambling laws. Three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Perry Green, who is in his 70s, is a vocal proponent for poker in the state.

A bill he helped get through the house would allow one card room per 30,000 people. However, the bill failed in the state’s Senate. The bill noted that many people play in legal home games, and also underground for-profit games, which have been going on for more than a hundred years.

Although falling short, his efforts have at least put poker on the lips and in the minds of politicians in Alaska.

Criminal Code

Alaska does have some forms of legalized gambling. Meager bingo and pull-tab halls run by Native American tribes exist.

The Criminal Code also allows for several traditional games of chance to be played played at festivals, such as the “cabbage classic,” “where a prize of money is awarded for the closest guess of the weight of the winning cabbage at the Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, operated and administered by the Palmer Rotary Club.”

Alaska has no language in its criminal code directly addressing online poker. Poker is legally played and enjoyed in private homes, where no rake is collected by the state.

Notable Players

Poker professional Greg “Duck_U” Hobson is an Anchorage resident with more than $4.5 million in online cashes. He also won a 2012 WSOP bracelet in the $1,500 ante-only no-limit hold’em event. It’s fitting that this sort of tournament was won by an online poker pro, as the “ante-only” format originated online.

Also, don’t forget the aforementioned Perry Green, who played in the very earliest WSOP tourneys. He won bracelets in 1976, 1977 and 1979.

Will Online Poker Become Legal in Alaska?

Without an established and functioning gaming commission, or a strong political ally, online poker faces a tough battle here. All hope is not lost, though. Once other states begin to allow its residents to play on sites located in those other states, another push will be made. The issue will most likely be determined by its citizens through a ballot measure.

Estimated online poker consumer base

Alaska has about 500,000 people over the age of 21. About 10 percent of American adults played for real money online (according to marketing research data from 2007), so that leaves around 50,000 online poker players in Alaska without a game.

Alaska’s potential online poker population is the same as Comoros, an island country in the Indian Ocean where people can play online poker.

Closest legal online poker

Canada is right there. Also, can’t Sarah Palin see Russia from her porch? Yes, online poker is legal in the Russian Federation.