New Alaskan Bill Calls For Legal Card Rooms & Sports Betting

April 4, 2019 by Ella McDonald

AlaskaWhen it comes to shining the spotlight on the state of gambling legalization, Alaska tends to be ignored. This is mostly because of its isolation but it is now time for Alaska to be in the news as it appears that legislators in the state are looking to pass new laws that would legalize gambling.

Currently, Alaska only permits gambling on cruise ships sailing off its coast and in tribal casinos. But House Bill 103 will change all of that provided it gets approval. The new bill is pushing for legal card rooms and an Alaskan Gaming Commission to regulate the market.

New Revenue Stream

In a statement, State Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, said

HB103 will expand the gaming laws in Alaska to include operation of card rooms hosting banked and non-banked card games. Card rooms in the state of Alaska have been contemplated for years, now is the time to stop contemplating and make them a reality. Let’s bring the cards out of the back rooms and in a fun, social setting for all to enjoy.

The bill presents these card rooms as more than simple poker halls. They will be open 24/7 and will give customers a variety of experiences including shopping and restaurants. The only thing missing from turning them into full-fledged casinos would be slot machines. Sullivan-Leonard is pushing her bill by emphasizing how big a potential revenue source it could turn out to be for the state government. Additionally, it would create jobs for Alaskans who are enduring some tough financial times.

The plan is to establish a gaming commission who will then be responsible for awarding gaming licenses to those parties it deems as competitive applicants. The licensing fee would be fixed at $100,000, while the card rooms would pay 9.5 percent of their gross gaming revenue in gaming taxes to the state.

However, there are many critics who say that despite the attraction of tax revenue and jobs, the bill has a very slim chance of being approved.

Potential for Sports Betting

Besides cards, the terms described in the bill would be perfect for sports betting. Other states have jumped on the legal sports betting wagon and Alaska could soon follow suit as it already has an unregulated sport betting market. The logical step is to convert the illegal sports betting market into a legalized market as it can potentially create a lot of revenue.

Currently, Alaska has only 500,000 adults and a study carried out by Oxford Economics in 2017 projects that this market will generate around $7 million in sports revenue. It will be interesting to see how lawmakers proceed with House Bill 103.