Breaking the Ice: Exploring the Potential for Legalized Sports Betting in Alaska



Alaska Legal Sports Betting Overview

AK Sports Betting Law Details

Status:

  • Retail Sports Betting Launch Date: N/A
  • Online Sports Betting Launch Date: N/A
  • Licensed Sportsbooks: N/A
  • Legal Wagering Options: N/A
  • Legal Gambling Age in AK: N/A
  • Sports to Bet On: N/A
  • Permitted Banking Options: N/A
  • Alaska Gambling Regulator: N/A

The Last Frontier, known for its challenging living conditions, presents obstacles for the launch of sports betting. As one of the least populated states in the US but the largest by area, Alaska’s lawmakers have deemed retail wagering impractical. However, there is potential for an online-only market. Though legislation failed to pass in 2022, it is likely that another attempt to amend the state’s betting laws will occur in 2023.

Governor Mike Dunleavy has been a prominent supporter of sports wagering in Alaska, introducing bills to legalize both sports betting and a state lottery in 2020. Unfortunately, these bills did not pass in the House or the Senate. However, if a bill were to reach the Governor’s desk, he would likely sign it, as it would introduce new revenue sources to the state. To gain a comprehensive understanding of sports wagering in Alaska, read our complete guide below.

Alaska Online Sportsbooks Summary

If sports betting becomes legalized in Alaska, online wagering will take the lead. Although SB 188 and HB 385 focused on online sports betting, neither bill successfully passed. However, there is still a possibility for future attempts at legalization in 2023. Currently, no sportsbooks have expressed public interest in launching in AK. However, it is expected that Barstool Sportsbook, owned by Penn National Gaming, a company with strong ties to the state through the Alaska Department of Revenue’s ownership of over 23,000 shares, would be among the first to go live. Furthermore, Alaskans already have access to Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games through brands like ESPN, FantasyDraft, and Boom Fantasy. The infrastructure provided by DraftKings and FanDuel in the state may also pave the way for the launch of online sportsbooks in the future. It is worth noting that online wagering on horse races and pari-mutuel betting is not currently available in Alaska, but residents can visit partnered retail locations in Canada’s Northwest Territories to place wagers through Sport Select.

Latest Alaska Sports Betting Updates

Current Sports Betting Status in Alaska

As of now, there are no forms of legal sports betting in Alaska. While retail wagering may not be feasible, three online sports betting bills have been introduced since 2020. Governor Dunleavy introduced two of these bills, but none successfully passed. Alaskans can participate in DFS games, but pari-mutuel betting and online horse racing are not available.

  • Timeline for Sports Betting in Alaska
  • July 6, 2022: The Alaska Department of Revenue sells some of its shares in Penn National Gaming. The Department still holds 23,369 shares.
  • February 22, 2022: Representative Adam Wool introduces HB 385 to the House, aiming to legalize mobile sports betting in Alaska. The bill is referred to the Labor and Commerce Committee, where it fails to progress.
  • July 6, 2021: The Department of Revenue commissions a $400,000 study to assess the feasibility of sports betting and other forms of gambling.
  • February 12, 2020: Governor Dunleavy introduces SB 188 and HB 246 to lawmakers. Both bills seek to legalize sports betting and establish a state lottery but are referred to committees and ultimately do not pass.
  • May 14, 2018: The US Supreme Court overturns the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), granting states the right to legalize sports betting.

Alaska has traditionally shown a limited interest in gambling, relying on its oil profits and not requiring additional sources of revenue like other states. However, Governor Dunleavy saw sports betting and a state lottery as potential avenues to diversify the economy and introduced SB 188 and HB 246 in 2020. The introduction of HB 385 in 2022 indicates ongoing interest in launching sports betting in Alaska. As sports betting continues to grow in popularity across the US and Canada, it is expected that the pressure on Alaska’s lawmakers to introduce wagering will increase. If successful legislation is passed, Barstool Sportsbook, DraftKings, and FanDuel are likely to be among the first to launch in the state.

Alaska Sports Betting Locations

Alaska does not currently have any casinos, as gambling is not permitted. However, there is a potential for a tribal casino operated by the Metlakatla tribe, which is already authorized to offer pull-tab games and bingo. Additionally, a 2021 feasibility study conducted by the Department of Revenue explored possible casino locations in the state. However, without the legalization of casino gambling by lawmakers, there will be no casinos in the Last Frontier. While retail sports betting is unavailable in Alaska, residents can travel to the Northwest Territories in Canada to place retail sports bets using Sport Select. They can make their wager selections online but must confirm them in person at participating retail locations. Since November 2021, Sport Select has allowed single-game betting and parlays.

Alaska Lottery Locations

Currently, there is no official state lottery in Alaska. However, Governor Dunleavy’s SB 188 proposed the creation of a lottery to oversee sports betting. Due to Alaska’s sparse population, there would likely be no betting at lottery retailers.

Off-Track and Stadium Betting Locations

Alaska does not have retail sports betting, and as a result, wagering at sports venues is not possible. Horse racing is also unavailable in the state, and pari-mutuel betting is illegal.

Alaska Responsible Gambling Resources

  • Alaska National Council on Problem Gambling – Provides an overview of support resources in Alaska, a 24/7 helpline, and live chat. (800) 522-4700
  • All Treatment Alaska – Lists treatment centers in Alaska where individuals can seek help for problem gambling. (269) 248-5248
  • Gamblers Anonymous – Organizes meetings across the state for problem gamblers to share experiences and offers a treatment program.

While Alaska does not have legal gambling, the state is open to supporting organizations that assist individuals struggling with problem gambling, such as the Alaska National Council on Problem Gambling and All Treatment Alaska.

Teams to Bet on in Alaska

Pro Sports

Alaska’s small population makes it challenging for the state to sustain major league sports teams. The closest US state to Alaska is Washington, so Alaskan sports fans often support US teams and franchises in neighboring Canadian provinces. Some popular teams among Alaska residents include:

State Teams
Oregon Portland Trail Blazers (NBA)
Washington Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seattle Kraken (NHL)

Minor League Sports

Since Alaska does not have major league sports teams, minor leagues play a significant role in local sports fandom. Some notable minor league teams in Alaska are:

  • Fairbanks Ice Dogs: A Tier II junior team in the North American Hockey League Midwest Division. They have won two regular season championships and play at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
  • Kenai River Brown Bears: They compete in the same division as the Ice Dogs at the Soldotna Sports Center and have made multiple playoff appearances.
  • Alaska Timber: They participate in the Last Frontier Division of the United Premier Soccer League and are affiliated with MLS’ Portland Timbers. The team won their division in 2020.

College Sports

  • Alaska Nanooks: The University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks ice hockey team competes at the NCAA Division I level. Notable former players include Shawn Chambers, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, and Colton Parakyo, a one-time Stanley Cup winner.
  • Alaska Anchorage Seawolves: This ice hockey team plays in NCAA Division I and has appeared in three NCAA Tournaments. The University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves are associated with the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Women’s Sports

Alaska does not have professional women’s sports teams, but local college teams receive support from women’s sports enthusiasts. For instance, the Seawolves women’s gymnastics team competes in the NCAA Division I as part of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

How Does Alaska Compare to Other States

Market Coverage

As there are no neighboring states to Alaska with legal sports betting, it is difficult to predict what the sportsbook market may look like in the state. The closest state, Washington, offers retail wagering through partnerships with tribal casinos. It is likely that Alaska will follow the mobile-exclusive model seen in states like Tennessee and Wyoming. If we examine these states, it is evident that Alaskan bettors will have access to a wide range of betting lines on major league sports such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. Niche sports like MMA, NASCAR, and European soccer will also have numerous options.

Competitive Odds & Prices

Again, the best comparison for Alaska’s sports betting market is with online-only states in the US. Brands like DraftKings, FanDuel, and Barstool Sportsbook operate in Tennessee and are expected to launch in Alaska. These operators are available in numerous states and consistently provide competitive odds across the board. Barstool Sportsbook, for instance, is highly regarded for its comprehensive range of betting lines on major league games.

Gambling Revenue

By not legalizing online sports betting, Alaska is missing out on potential tax revenue, as demonstrated by the success of Wyoming. With a similar population size and low population density, Wyoming can serve as a realistic model for Alaska. As of June 2022, Wyoming has processed nearly $104 million in wagers, generating $9.6 million in revenue. With a tax rate of 10%, Wyoming has collected over $364,000 in taxes. Representative Wool’s HB 385 proposed a 12% tax on mobile sportsbooks in Alaska. Given Alaska’s larger population and fewer neighboring states with legal online sports betting, it is likely that Alaska could generate even more revenue than Wyoming.

Betting Taxes

Regardless of the state, all US bettors are required to pay taxes on their winnings. It is mandatory to declare all winnings to the IRS and complete a W-2G form for winnings exceeding $600. Sportsbooks may also withhold up to 25% of winnings to comply with federal tax rules. Additionally, bettors typically have to include their winnings in their state income tax filings. However, Alaska does not impose this type of tax on its residents. Sportsbooks themselves must pay a 0.25% excise tax on monthly betting handles in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code. Every employee involved in accepting wagers incurs a $50 payment.

Who Oversees Sports Betting in Alaska?

The most recent sports betting legislation proposed by Representative Wool aimed to grant regulatory power to the Alaska Department of Revenue. This would involve complete oversight of sports betting, including rule creation and tax collection from betting sites. Alternatively, a new regulatory body might be established specifically for overseeing sports betting. Governor Dunleavy’s bills proposed the creation of a state lottery entity, which would also assume regulatory responsibilities for sports betting. In other states such as West Virginia and Montana, lotteries serve as the regulatory bodies for betting markets. Regardless of the regulatory body, the requirements and responsibilities would be the same—to establish the licensing process and ensure the safe operation of sportsbooks within the state.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is betting legal in Alaska?

No, sports betting is currently illegal in Alaska. Although Governor Dunleavy introduced two bills in 2020 in an attempt to legalize wagering, they did not pass. A subsequent bill in 2022 also failed to pass.

Who would govern sports betting in Alaska?

According to the most recent sports betting bill, the Alaska Department of Revenue would be responsible for regulating sports betting in the state. Governor Dunleavy’s bills proposed the creation of a state lottery, which would oversee sports betting as well. Any regulatory body would ensure compliance and regulatory adherence among sportsbooks operating in Alaska.

How old would you have to be to bet in Alaska?

Representative Wool’s HB 385 suggested a legal gambling age of 21 for sports betting in Alaska. When registering with an online sportsbook, individuals would need to upload a copy of their photo ID to prove their age before being able to withdraw funds.

When will sports betting launch in Alaska?

The earliest possible timeline for the launch of sports betting in Alaska is late 2023 or 2024. As the 2022 legislative session has concluded, no sports wagering legislation can be passed until the 2023 session. Should a sports betting bill pass, there will be a period required to establish the licensing process and allow operators to set up.

Where will I be able to bet on sports in Alaska?

If sports betting is legalized in Alaska, it is expected to be available exclusively online. Given Alaska’s large size and small population, retail sports betting is unlikely to be profitable, prompting lawmakers to focus on mobile wagering instead.

Will sportsbooks in Alaska be safe?

Before any sportsbook is launched in Alaska, it will undergo thorough checks and testing by the state’s regulatory body. This ensures that each betting site meets the necessary safety and fairness standards. The regulatory body will also establish licensing requirements to maintain the integrity of sports betting for players in the state.

Would I have to pay taxes on betting winnings in Alaska?

Yes, all US bettors, including those from Alaska, are obligated to pay taxes on their betting winnings. All winnings must be declared to the IRS, and a W-2G form must be completed for winnings exceeding $600.

Can you play DraftKings in Alaska?

No, DraftKings cannot be used for sports wagering in Alaska as sports betting is currently illegal in the state. However, Alaskans can still partake in DraftKings’ Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games. The closest state where DraftKings Sportsbook is available is Oregon.

Can you play FanDuel in Alaska?

FanDuel is not accessible for sports betting in Alaska. However, individuals can engage in FanDuel’s Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games in the state. The nearest state where you can wager with FanDuel is Washington, which has a retail sportsbook at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino.

Can you play BetMGM in Alaska?

No, BetMGM cannot be used for sports betting in Alaska as it is currently illegal in the state. A BetMGM retail sportsbook exists at the Emerald Queen Casino & Hotel in Washington.

Can you play Caesars in Alaska?

Similar to other sportsbooks, Caesars cannot be used for betting purposes in Alaska. However, if you visit Washington, there is a Caesars retail sportsbook available at the Muckleshoot Casino and Spokane Tribe Casino.

Can you play TwinSpires in Alaska?

No, you cannot use TwinSpires for betting on sports or online horse racing in Alaska. Moreover, TwinSpires is discontinuing its sports betting product in various US states.

Which sportsbooks will be available in Alaska in the future?

In the future, if sports betting becomes legalized in Alaska, it is highly likely that Barstool Sportsbook will launch in the state. This is because the Alaska Department of Revenue holds shares in Penn National Gaming, the parent company of Barstool. Additionally, due to their existing presence in Alaska’s DFS market, DraftKings and FanDuel are also strong contenders for future sportsbook launches.


Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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