Alaska is exploring the possibility of embracing expanded gambling. The state has allocated $400,000 in a feasibility study which will examine the potential for legal gambling, including casinos, lottery, and sports gambling, as well as other forms of gaming in the state.
Alaska which has a population of just 733,391 people based on the 2020 U.S Census figures, has one of the most restrictive gambling laws in the country. Most forms of gambling are generally illegal in the state. It is home to two tribal casinos which are the only ones authorized to run gambling activities, which are also limited to just bingo and “pull tab” games. Charitable gaming is also allowed, in the form of raffles and other activities of similar types.
Things could change with state Governor Mike Dunleavy indicating his support for legalized gambling in a bid to solve the state’s budget deficit and adopt a more modern way of generating revenue. The state could initially focus on three areas: casino gambling, sports betting, and lottery.
Alaska could allow casino gambling via Las Vegas-style land-based casinos, which could potentially boost tourism in the state. Gov. Dunleavy also supports the idea of establishing Alaska’s own lottery, the Alaska Lottery Corporation, which could also be tasked to regulate sports betting.
In 2020, Dunleavy put forward new proposals for the creation of the state lottery, which he said have the potential to create new business opportunities. Furthermore, revenue generated from the lottery would also help fund the state’s K-12 education, with a portion of the profits also going towards programs to address domestic violence, homelessness, and drug abuse.
Alaska is currently one of just five states across the US that does not have a state lottery.
It remains unclear whether the state is also considering launching its own online sports betting market, considering its small population.
Not Too Far Away
Alaska has for a long time rejected proposals for expanded legal gambling. However, with the current budget issues facing the state, it will only be a matter of time before it officially decides to reap the benefits of having its own regulated gambling market.
The COVID-19 situation has forced multiple states to reconsider its stance on legalized gambling and look at the potential of legalizing gambling and improving the state economy. The state has yet to release a timeline as to when the $400K feasibility study will be completed.